Why are we Overweight?

A Harvard study gives us a surprising answer…

why are we overweight.A surprising number of us in the UK are overweight, up to half of all men and a third of women. But when you consider that those percentages rise to nearly 80% for those over 55 then there is a cause for real concern. It’s true that over the last forty years obesity rates have increased threefold, we have also seen a large increase in the numbers of those suffering from diabetes and heart disease. The logical question is “why?” Is it our diets, sedentary lifestyles, maybe our alcohol intake?

A 2012 Harvard study can provide us with some tentative answers. Surprisingly, the amount of calories we burn on a day-to-day basis has hardly decreased over the last forty years. The problem lies with our calorie intake and the Harvard researchers led by Dr David Cutler feel the reason for this is our fear of the kitchen. What they found was that there is a correlation between the amount of food we eat that has been prepared outside the home and our burgeoning waistlines. Not having to take the time and trouble to prepare food means that we eat far more readily. This is especially the case in America which is the ultimate fast food culture and now the world capital for obesity and coronary disease.

Worryingly, what America does now we tend to do a decade or so down the line. We tend to take a benevolent view of fast food outlets and store-prepared food such as ready meals- they taste good so surely they’re on our side?


Wrong, by and large they want our money so they include anything that tickles our taste buds be it salt, saturated fats, or sugar! If we could actually see the amount of these nutrients that goes into the food we would never eat it, but because we don’t prepare it ourselves we never see. It’s the same as the difference between spending money freely on your credit card and having to stump up real cash which makes you more aware of how you’re spending.

Except when we habitually eat the wrong foods in excessive quantities we are damaging our health as surely as heavy smokers and drinkers are. Maybe in ten or twenty years eating a fast-food diet will be as deplorable as chain smoking seems to us now; the fast food purveyors as reviled as the cigarette companies!

Cutler’s results held across different cultures and at all levels of society. So no matter where you are in the world, what you do for a living, and how much money you have, the best predictor of how likely you are to be obese is the amount of food you eat which hasn’t been prepared in the home. All of which leads us to a great method for shedding fat- keep the fast food as a weekly or monthly treat and HIT THE KITCHEN!

Post Author: Max

Massimo (Max) Vencato holds a doctorate (PhD) in Sports and Exercise Psychology and a Degree in Sports Sciences (first class with honours). He works today as a cardiac rehabilitation trainer, personal trainer (specialising in weight loss) and lecturer in Sports and Exercise Psychology at Brunel University London.

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