Why People Become Overweight.

by Little Miss Attila on July 2, 2011

David Linden wrote this about a month ago; I usually get emails about his articles, but either he forgot or I missed this one in the crunch to get The Conservatory off the ground.

I know two kinds of overweight people: those who overeat, and those who have glandular and related issues and don’t seem to really take in enough to sustain that biomass. There is no way to tell by looking at a person if he or she overeats–and, as David points out, brain chemistry is highly variable; many people are programmed to eat more. Evolution drives us to do it as a species, but the delicate mechanisms of the brain drive some harder than others, and in different ways.

(Plus, I do think that we’ve been led down the garden path about carbs to a certain degree . . . I love carbs, but they are easy to overdo, and it’s not hard to screw up one’s metabolism that way. The McGovern Commission and the USDA didn’t really help matters when they demonized dietary fat and encouraged overconsumption of grains for several decades, there. Tom Naughton, whose Fathead movie is the classic response to Fast Food Nation, sounds this theme a lot on his blog.)

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Obesity and sleep — Cynthia Yockey, A Conservative Lesbian
July 2, 2011 at 9:19 pm

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Southern Man July 2, 2011 at 7:20 am

Sigh. And I know about one kind of overweight person – women who religiously count calories and measure portions and drink only diet soda and fret over a single extra M&M, but whose diet is almost entirely carbs with virtually no meat or fat. Some of them are so fearful of meat and fat that they actually pick the chicken out of their chicken pasta, eat the pasta, and toss the meat. They remain overweight, and always will be.

This ought to be an interesting comment thread. Unleash the hounds!


Dr. K July 3, 2011 at 5:06 am

After recently being diagagnosed with Type II Diabetes, I have been reading up on the whole issue – and have been amazed at what I have learned.

The recent news about potato chips as a significant factor in obesity is no real surprise. Not because of the tendency to just eat the whole bag. Whenever I have potatoes in ANY form with portion control, I notice a significant spike in my blood glucose level (BGL). This is far different than when I have a serving of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Same amount of carbs in grams, much different results in BGL.

I do not have it with me at the moment, but there is a decent book – Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs (don’t remember the author at the moment) that explains the whole thing. It has to do with the Glycemic Index and it really seems to make a difference.


epador July 3, 2011 at 8:40 am

Sorry folks, but despite all money making attempts to the contrary, if you are trying to lose weight, the only good calories are the ones you don’t need that you don’t eat. Be they carbohydrate, fat or protein.

What you don’t burn you store. Period.

Most folks who say they have a glandular problem may just be responding to their salivary glands too often.

There are many successful diet plans, but they all hinge on keeping you from being malnourished while you decrease your intake and increase your calories burned.

Blaming foods for your poor choices is a liberal mind trick.


Dan July 3, 2011 at 11:39 am

Diabetes is up because, I’m assured, the goalposts were moved — from blg of 140 to 120. So if you were 130, you used to not be diabetic, now you are.

Epador: Paragraph 1 phrased nicely. However, paras 3 and 5 detract severely from the rest of your post, approaching a child’s taunt toward a fat kid.

Yes, calories in must equal calories out or you’ll gain weight, but there’s something to the observation that some folks can eat whatever they want and not gain weight (and not work out, either), while some of our brethren (and sistren, I guess) gain weight by looking at a food ad in a magazine. And I don’t think our over-protective FDA was much help by insisting on so many carbs for the past however many years in their pyramid schemes.


Dr. K July 3, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Yeah epidor, I guess I fell for the liberal mind trick during the year I lived in China. Minimal complex carbs (whole wheat noodles, rice, and dumpling wrappers are the main “starches”), almost no baked goods – Chinese do not have ovens in their apartments, lots of fruits, vegetables, and meat.

In the first 2 months there, I lost 30 pounds without exercise – all due to change in diet. Part of my job was to entertain customers, so banquets 4 or 5 nights a week and lots of drinking (more than I did in college). Sort of like the South Beach Diet on steroids.

While the simple energy balance is a good start, the body is somewhat wired to process different types of calories in different modes – some are more prone to storage than others. High BGL foods get converted to glycogen and then to fat – and that is the last thing the body draws on.

So maybe educate yourself before you get on your high horse. You ain’t as smart about this as you may think.


John July 4, 2011 at 5:06 am

I’m 0verweight because I eat too much and exercise too little.

How many of the people who claim a glandular problem have actually had a blood test performed by a competent endocrinologist, showing hormone levels that cannot sustain the desired metabolic level? I lay that burden of proof upon all who make this claim.


Southern Man July 4, 2011 at 7:02 am

I’ve struggled with weight for twenty years (desk job, married for much of that to a very good old-fashioned country cook, and not enough exercise) and nothing worked – until about a year ago when I cut way, WAY back on carbs. It’s made all the difference in the world. After all the “special” meals and calorie counting and portion weighing, my “diet” today is nothing more than watching carbs. It works for me.


Fred the Fourth July 6, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I have to side with Southern Man et al. I cut way back on breads & chip-like things, and upped the eggs and meats. Lo and Behold! I’m losing about a pound a month.


Fred the Fourth July 6, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Also, my diet’s pretty heavy on dark greens (broccoli, peas, asparagus) mostly steamed or stirfried in a bit of olive oil. (And apples. I love apples.)


Texan99 July 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I generally agree the main point is to eat fewer calories, but there’s no doubt that some things have an effect on your metabolism. Whether particular foods have that effect, I can’t say, but obviously exercise does, and nicotine. I’m not recommending smoking, which does more damage than does being overweight, but it’s a snap to lose weight when you’re smoking. I suppose part of that may be that you smoke when you otherwise might have snacked.

Appetite is so caught up in your mood, too, and what it takes to feel satisfied. I’ve noticed that eating a snack 30 minutes before dinner makes me want to stop eating halfway through what otherwise would have looked like an ordinary plateful — even when the snack has far fewer calories than the skipped half-meal, like a glass of V8. That’s an effect of blood-sugar on my subjective appetite, probably. It can also be important whether you tend to wolf your food, so that more goes down before your blood sugar can catch up and tell your brain you’re not hungry any more.

When it comes right down to it, though, anything you do will have to pass the test of “fewer calories eaten in relation to calories burned.” It’s easier to do when your brain isn’t yelling “eat more,” but it’s possible either way.


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