Getting Fatter

If you’ve paid attention to human health trends and rates of obesity, it’s easier to see that on the average, we are heavier than we used to be. It’s easy to pin these changes on unhealthy habits, including a more sedentary lifestyle with very little exercise, and diets filled with fat, salt, sugar, and artificial additives. Technological advances have made it easier than ever to fall into these bad habits, certainly.  Having access to more food while doing less individually to actually get it certainly creates a “perfect storm” for weight gain. However, perhaps there’s more to it than that.

The Study

cut calories

According to one study, carried out in Toronto, Ontario, there certainly is. Performed by researchers from York University, the study came to the conclusion that the average person of today would inevitably need to reduce their daily caloric intake while increasing their level of exercise in order to keep off any extra weight, as compared to a person of the same age roughly 40 years ago. This suggests immediately that there is, in fact, more to our increased average weight than our habits (which admittedly could still be healthier). But how did the researchers determine that this way the case?

Researchers came to this conclusion based on the information they found after considering the dietary habits of just over 35000 adult participants. This data, covering the stretch of time between 1971 and 2008, was made available by the National Health and Nutrition Survey. Aside from this dietary information, the researchers factored in data related to physical activity for nearly 15000 participants between the years of 1988 to 2006. Given that diet and exercise are arguably two of the largest factors in terms of health and weight gain, this information represents a healthy pool of data from which to draw results.

The Findings

BMI Chart

Specifically, the researchers took a look at three critical factors within the data; doing so revealed that even when the three were exactly the same, the average person in 2006 would still have a higher body mass index, or BMI, than an otherwise similar person in 1998. The differences were as great as 10%. That’s a 10% increase in the space of eight years- despite the fact that both the person from 1998 and the person from 2006 would be taking in the same calories, consuming the same level of macronutrients, and exercising just as much and just as often.

Unfortunately for all of us concerned about our health, it’s not simply a matter of how many calories we burn vs how many (and what kind) we take in from our food.  It’s much more complicated, and there are factors that we just haven’t considered, or at least, haven’t considered enough. Based on the findings, it’s clear that these factors were either nonexistent, or less of a factor in the past, but they are certainly relevant now. Because of this, it is important to keep track of them and manage them efficiently, if at all possible. Consider these six factors: