is inactivity the problem?

pnbrownJuly 27, 2012

Read this very interesting study which attempts to compare energy expenditure between typical Western lifestyle vs a pre-modern gatherer one. Indications are that the latter is not more energy intensive than the former, which blows a hole in the popular idea that people are fat and unhealthy because they don't "do" anything.

Which leaves the blame for the dis-health epidemic squarely where it belongs: on high-energy foods empty of real nutrition.

Here is a link that might be useful: busy little gatherers

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I agree with the study for the most part. Most of my heavy clients are actually calorie deficient, but they always have that processed energy bar, energy drink or whatever with them. How about some raw almonds and water!

Those empty calories really wreak havoc on the body. Not only can it lead to weight gain, but also, inflammation, fatigue, artherosclerosis. The thing I find the hardest is getting people to give up their favorite drinks filled with HFCS or aspartame.

Many need to be more active for a variety of reasons, not just weight control, e.g., muscle tone, cardiovascular health, flexibility. And, of course, there will always be the exception to the rule -- those people that eat like crap but still have a model figure.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 9:37AM
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Thats an interesting study - on several levels - but the first thing that comes to mind is genetics - I mean, how do you compare an isolated-for-millenia tribe in northern Tanzania with a buncha genetically mixed up Notre Americanos?

The second thing is size - the Hazda men weigh an average of 43 kg (93 lbs) the Americans 74 kg (163). So just moving that much more mass around isn't accounted for in the calculations, and thus the energy expenditure seems even.

And click on the graphs - they seem to tell another story all together, perhaps the biggest is 'what the heck' scatter charts.

I remember reading an article in the National Geographic about the Hazda a while ago, at the link.

snip - "Onwas is an old man, perhaps over 60 - years are not a unit of time he uses - but thin and fit in the Hadza way. He's maybe five feet tall. Across his arms and chest are the hieroglyphs of a lifetime in the bush: scars from hunts, scars from snakebites, scars from arrows and knives and scorpions and thorns. Scars from falling out of a baobab tree. Scars from a leopard attack. Half his teeth remain. He is wearing tire-tread sandals and tattered brown shorts. A hunting knife is strapped to his hip, in a sheath made of dik-dik hide. He's removed his shirt, as have most of the other men, because he wants to blend into the night.


Walking through Hadza country in the dark is challenging; thornbushes and spiked acacia trees dominate the terrain, and even during the day there is no way to avoid being jabbed and scratched and punctured. A long trek in the Hadza bush can feel like receiving a gradual full-body tattoo. The Hadza spend a significant portion of their rest time digging thorns out of one another with the tips of their knives.

At night the thorns are all but invisible, and navigation seems impossible. There are no trails and few landmarks. To walk confidently in the bush, in the dark, without a flashlight, requires the sort of familiarity one has with, say, one's own bedroom. Except this is a thousand-square-mile bedroom, with lions and leopards and hyenas prowling in the shadows.

For Onwas such navigation is no problem. He has lived all his life in the bush. He can start a fire, twirling a stick between his palms, in less than 30 seconds. He can converse with a honeyguide bird, whistling back and forth, and be led directly to a teeming beehive. He knows everything there is to know about the bush and virtually nothing of the land beyond. - snip - "

Anyway, how many natural sources of energy-dense food are there, available to the hunter-gatherer? Honey and nuts is about it.

Here is a link that might be useful: link to National Geographic article on the Hazda

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 9:54AM
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After what we called the Food Desert Challenge, 3 of us purposely went on diets consisting of food purchased at convenience stores - Stewart's and Cumberland Farms, fast food purchased at Burger King and delivery purchased from Italian and Chinese restaurants.

While we consumed a lot of empty calories - simple sugars, fast burning carbs and fats, plus ate as few vegetables/fruits as possible, we all lost fat, gained muscle and gained strength due to heavier higher intensity weight training.

One of the participants that typically did a few hours of cardio per week actually stopped running, swimming and stopped doing treadmill work.

My testosterone levels went up substantially from my two baseline tests, probably due to extremely heavy squats, deadlifts and back exercises. My mood and energy levels were incredible as well.

Some things I noticed were that my skin, especially my face was very oily, I had body odor which I typically don't have, my sleep patterns were erratic and my digestive system took some time to get used to the change.

Two of us we training for a powerlifting competition at the time. We both took first place in our weight categories beating out several steroid, growth hormone and insulin users.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 10:09AM
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The numerous obese and out-of-shape people we know are obese due to a number of issues - they're very sedentary, they have very little muscle, they don't do "any" cardio, they don't do resistance/weight training (or physical work), they walk as little as possible and they consume too many calories for their height, bone structure and level of activity.

Nearly all the obese people we know are indoor homebodies. They don't push lawnmowers, shovel, rake, bike, walk, run and they're not into sports or outdoor activities.

When one of our top performing warehouse workers left her very physical warehouse job for an office job, she gained so much weight in a year that I didn't even recognize her.

When she was working in our warehouse she would down soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, fast food and junk food like it was going out of style and never put on weight.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 10:14AM
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Circus Peanut

David, I believe the study was adjusted for the discrepancy in body sizes?

"Nonetheless, average daily energy expenditure of traditional Hadza foragers was no different than that of Westerners after controlling for body size. "

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 11:05AM
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I didn't catch that.

I'm just envisioning some 300 lb Barcalounger-bound, beer and chips NFL fan with one of these 90 lb dudes running at night through the African bush, and figuring that the amount of energy used to get up, head to the fridge and grab another cold one is about the same amount of calories for the 90 lber to run a kilometer.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 11:15AM
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I'm with David, re the genetic component. I would like to see the tribe compared with a more genetically "pure" (for want of a better word) group of hunter gatherers or farmers with an active lifestyle.

I'm inclined to think the issue with Americans is a combination of eating too large portions of highly processed foods, large amounts of HFCS, plus the sedentary lifestyle. (For kids, shorter recesses, computer games as substitute for rigorous after school sports, lack of active play, in general). For adults, more travel via vehicles, as opposed to walking or cycling, and the decline of the American farm, when folk labored hard from dawn to dusk, at least my ancestors did.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 12:32PM
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Note that a group of bolivian substance farmers was also in the comparison. They actually had higher average TEE than either the gatherers or the Westerners, suggesting that organized ag when little-mechanized is about the most demanding lifestyle on the planet. No surprise there.

The surprise is that gatherers do not expend more energy, on average, than mechanized moderns. They just have way less stuff, and way healthier foodstuffs.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 1:09PM
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But aren't Bolivian subsistance farmers doing this on steep hillsides at 9,000+ feet?

I grew up climbing and backpacking all over the Rockies, ran cross country as a competitive sport in high school and college, and would be considered by American standards to be pretty fit - go for a 5 mile run? No problem. When I joined the Peace Corps at age 22, I used to hang with the village hunting/fishing crowd. They'd go hunting for hours and hours, miles and miles, all on foot moving very quickly to cover a lot of ground. There was no way I could keep up with these guys, even though they were twice my age and came up to my chin. And then they'd shoot something like a small antelope, gut it, and carry 30 lbs of meat all the way back.

So there's something else going on there.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 1:59PM
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snip -

Here, a guide to the "insane" diets of Olympic athletes:

How fast do athletes-in-training burn through calories?
Lickety-split. Normal people are told to consume roughly 2,000 calories or less a day. But elite athletes can burn through 15 to 20 calories in a single minute, Dr. Michael Joyner tells The New York Times. At the peak of their training, athletes work out for four or five hours every day, which means they'll have to replenish some 4,000 to 6,000 calories if they want to "train again the next day."

What are they eating?
In 2008, gold-medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps made headlines when details of his 4,000-calorie breakfast were made public: Three fried-egg sandwiches, a five-egg omelet, a bowl of grits, three slices of French toast, and three pancakes with chocolate chips. Indeed, a typical meal for endurance athletes can resemble an episode of Man v. Food, says Gretchen Reynolds at the Times. An athlete might sit down for dinner and inhale a pound of pasta cooked with olive oil (800 calories), a dozen eggs (840 calories), an entire cheese pizza (2,000 calories), a pint of Ben & Jerry's cheesecake-brownie ice cream (1,000 calories), and beer (about 150 calories per bottle).

Why not eat healthy food?
"You can only eat so much oatmeal and tofu," says Dr. Joyner. And the calories don't add up. A bowl of oatmeal gives you just 150 calories, while a cup of tofu only boasts 175. But processed junk foods - candy bars, cookies, Pop-Tarts - provide more energy-replenishing calories per gram. Even when restricting their diet to pizza and ice cream, some athletes still shed weight. Of course, not everyone agrees with Dr. Joyner. Here's an example of a healthy 6,000-calorie diet for high-endurance Olympic athletes that relies on lean meats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Of course, it requires athletes to eat six times a day.

7am: breakfast
large bowl of cereal, such as porridge, muesli or Weetabix
half pint semi-skimmed milk plus chopped banana
1-2 thick slices wholegrain bread with olive oil or sunflower spread and honey or jam
glass of fruit juice
1 litre fruit squash
8am: training
1 litre sports drink during training
9.45am: post-training second breakfast
portion of scrambled eggs
portion of baked beans
1-2 rashers grilled lean bacon
portion of grilled mushrooms or tomatoes
2 thick slices wholegrain bread with olive oil spread
1 litre fruit squash
11am: training
1 litre sports drink during training
500ml low-fat milkshake after training
1pm: lunch
pasta with bolognese or chicken and mushroom sauce
mixed side salad
1 litre fruit squash
4pm: training
1 litre water or sports drink during training
5.30pm: post-training snack
large bowl of cereal with half pint semi-skimmed milk, or 4 slices toast with olive oil or sunflower spread and jam with large glass of semi-skimmed milk
500ml water
7.30pm: dinner
grilled meat or fish, such as salmon, tuna or chicken, or lean red meat
6-7 boiled new potatoes, large sweet potato or boiled rice
large portion of vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, corn or peas
1 bagel
1 low-fat yoghurt and 1 banana or other fruit
750ml water and squash
9.30pm: bedtime snack
low-fat hot chocolate with 1 cereal bar
10.30pm: bed

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 7:54PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I'd give this question consideration except it would take too much effort, might even have to stand up and look out the window to think about it.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 9:09PM
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Dave, your point is that world-class athletes expend enormously more energy that any ordinary person, including pre-moderns?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 9:48PM
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I would agree with Woodnymph regarding the general obesity and ill health we too often see in the USA. It's a combination of our poor diets and more sedentary lifestyles. It began to show noticeably right around the early 1980's, about the time home computers, video games, and better television choices emerged, along with more processed foods emptier in actual nutrition.

Athletes often eat quite differently than the average layperson... some sports require making a certain weight right before the event, and certain dietary changes take place during training, etc.

Right now, the average diet of too many people falls into the category of toxic, higher in empty calories, etc... and we often do not compensate for the amount of calories we intake, or the types.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 4:28PM
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When I've wanted to reduce body-fat, I've done it through exercise - running, swimming, treadmill work, sports, high intensity weight training/powerlifting etc as restricting calories makes me lethargic, weaker, less alert etc.

I once made the mistake of trying to compete @ 220 in a strength event by restricting my calories to around 3,000 per day - down from 5,000 plus per day.

After the weigh-in I was strong, but shaky. After downing a couple gallons of Gatorade, 3 massive bowls of chicken and rice and a few massive stacks of pancakes my strength came back, but my stabilizer muscles were still a little on the shaky side.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 8:18AM
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After a discussion about the fact that few local residents walk, hike, bike or run anymore, two of our friends (one overweight and one obese) bought pedometers to see how many steps they took.

The overweight one averaged around 3,500 steps and the obese one averaged less than 2,000 steps.

Why We Don't Walk Anymore

How many steps do you walk every day? Do you hit 10,000 steps, which experts recommend and is about 5 miles worth? Do you match the daily walking of a Hadza man or woman (8.3 or 5.5 km/day, respectively)? If you're anything like the average American, you're doing 5,117 steps a day, well shy of the 10,000 step mark and flirting dangerously with a formal sedentary classification. But we're not alone (though we're the worst). Of the four industrialized countries studied, not a single one found the mark. The Australians seem to come close, walking 9,695 steps a day. The Swiss follow with 9,650, and the Japanese are a bit further off with 7,168 steps per day. Contrast that with rural South African women, of whom just 11.9% can be classified as sedentary (under 5,000 steps a day) and for whom an average day means walking 10,594 steps (many of them done while carrying a load), or Amish aged 18-75 (PDF), who walk an average of 18,425 steps (men) or 14,196 steps (women) each day, and we're all looking pretty darn sedentary.

Why are between 25-35% of American adults completely inactive, meaning they work sitting down, drive everywhere sitting down, and sit down at home?

The main problem is that modern life isn't made for walking. Though it isn't true for everyone living within its borders, particularly in dense urban centers, the US (and other industrialized nations, increasingly) is a car country. We drive to work. We drive to the grocery store. We drive our kids to school. We drive to a fitness center to go walk around a track or on a treadmill. We drive because everything is spread out. We drive because our cities aren't built with pedestrians in mind, because it isn't always safe to walk. We drive because half the residents in our neighborhood don't see a need for sidewalks and actively resist their construction. We drive because that's just what you do, because "all my friends have their licenses already," because "walking is for poor people." Oh, and we drive because walking is tiring, dude, and the car is right there. In short, we drive because we no longer have to walk. Walking, real walking, for more than twenty or thirty minutes at a time has become an elective activity.

And we rarely elect it anymore.

That's really too bad, because walking is good for our general wellbeing. It'll help you lose body fat, if you're into that sort of thing, and the age-old bodybuilder trick to lean out is an early morning walk on an empty stomach (supplemented, of course, with stringent dieting, heavy lifting, and smart supplementation). But it's also good for your brain, your fitness, your memory, your longevity, your blood pressure, and your general health.

Here is a link that might be useful: Why We Don't Walk Anymore

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 8:28AM
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Speaking of computers and inactivity, I've been servicing computers since the mid 90s, but didn't really see a big increase in computer related inactivity until broadband came to most regions in the late 90s.

The second spike in computer driven inactivity I noticed was due to social networking.

I have computer customers and relatives that literally spend the majority of their day on facebook. Most of them are overweight or obese.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 8:39AM
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It seems that maybe only Dave actually read the link, because most of the rest of the responders here clearly didn't get the point:

On average, Westerners expend as much energy as typical gatherers, according to the linked study. IOW, the health/obesity problem is not primarily due to insufficient activity as we are constantly told. It's a distraction from the real issue, which is that massive business concerns have completely co-opted the food supply and nutrition for the majority of the population.

Keep focussing on the supposed "laziness" factor and this enormous problem, easily the greatest problem we have, and it will continue to not be solved.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 10:20AM
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I've been using one of those chest band transmitter heart rate monitors that transmits to a mini-computer on the wrist and some of the machines in the gym.

When you initially set the thing up, it asks weight, age, etc. and then figures out how many calories you're burning. It compensates upwards for weight - IOW - the more you weigh, the more calories you burn. At the link is a simple example of this - plug in the same thing, hit the calculator, then go back and change the weight and recalculate, the heavier you are, the more calories you burn.

So wouldn't that would be contrary to the OP?

The other thing is metabolic rate - my 20-something son, who runs, climbs, constantly works out, etc has I dunno what, 0.1% body fat, but eats more than three of the rest of us.

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 10:51AM
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We drive because time is just as important as exercise, if not more important.

If the metric of exercise is how many steps you take per day, then that's going to be distorted. When you lift you're not taking many steps, so I guess that doesn't count. When you swing an ax every day, you're probably not taking many steps either, but I'm guessing your upper body is pretty fit.

Really, not to be snarky, but sometimes I wonder if these things are written by pimply-faced, post-adolescent grad students, locked up in a room with a computer, a limited imagination, a pre-formed opinion, and a bunch of hallucinogenic drugs. Oh yeah, and lots of time on their hands. :-)

We drive because the school is 7 miles away and the job is 9 miles away. The grocery store is 4 miles.

Where you spend your time is extremely important, and spending it walking to the grocery store may not be the most productive use of time. Would you rather spend 2 hours walking to the supermarket, or would you rather use that 2 hours to go swimming (which also doesn't use many steps)? I would prefer to free up that time for swimming, myself, but everyone's mileage - no pun intended - may vary.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 10:52AM
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LH, what do you mean by "these things"?

Dave, in the OP study they controlled for body-mass. Apparently TEE is roughly equal pound-for-pound.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 12:55PM
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I get a little suspicious with statistics when they start 'controlling' for this and that. One or two things, ok. But I'd think the more things they control for, the more likely that they can arrive at erroneous conclusions.

There's something that just doesn't connect with my gut feeling. When you see these hunter-gatherer types and subsistence farmers who spend maybe 6-8 hours a day doing really hard physical exertion - walking rapidly during hunting, swinging a hoe, machete, etc. and see their physiques - small, light-weight, 'ripped' as they say, vs the Barca-lounger 300 lber, it don't seem right.

Lionheart, re the grad students - read the article about how they were hooking up these bushmen to all sorts of equipment, collecting their urine, etc. I'd love to hear a translation of their comments about all this, amongst each other.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 1:06PM
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It might be that both of your characterizations are exceptions rather than the average.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 1:47PM
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I get a little suspicious with statistics when they start 'controlling' for this and that. One or two things, ok. But I'd think the more things they control for, the more likely that they can arrive at erroneous conclusions.

There's something that just doesn't connect with my gut feeling. When you see these hunter-gatherer types and subsistence farmers who spend maybe 6-8 hours a day doing really hard physical exertion - walking rapidly during hunting, swinging a hoe, machete, etc. and see their physiques - small, light-weight, 'ripped' as they say, vs the Barca-lounger 300 lber, it don't seem right.

Lionheart, re the grad students - read the article about how they were hooking up these bushmen to all sorts of equipment, collecting their urine, etc. I'd love to hear a translation of their comments about all this, amongst each other.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 4:43PM
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I dunno how I did that

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 4:57PM
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"LH, what do you mean by "these things"?"

I was talking about the link that discusses measuring fitness by the average number of steps per day. So, ultimately, I was referring to the fact that we often take one criteria - walking, in this case - and interpret it to mean that it is the single most important component in the equation.

The writer has made good observations and has good intentions, but walking is time-consuming. If the author suggests that people should always walk to their destinations (within reason), that's time taken away from something else. That "something else" could be equally beneficial, perhaps even more productive, but it's not interpreted that way. Instead, it's interpreted as somewhat of a negative if people don't reach a certain number of steps per day without taking into consideration other ways the saved time is spent by not walking.

Walking, to some of us, is not particularly interesting. Actually, it can be downright boring, especially when it becomes dutiful, when there's nothing interesting to see, or you're walking the same route. Every. Single. Day. It can be so boring that you actually begin to dread it.

I haven't gotten to the other links yet, although they look interesting. David, I'm reading your link now, finally. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 5:04PM
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art_1(10 CA)

I think the problem (obesity and health) is a combination of these things mentioned. The lifestyle and activity level plays a part, but the diet is very important. Of course people that swim, run, climb, or play sports all day can eat more and remain lean. The consumption matches the activity level. For people that live differently like hunter gatherers, I think lifelong adaptation has a lot to do with it. If we had higher activity levels and lower dietary intake from birth then our bodies would be more efficient at physical exertion and making use of food.

What body builders and athletes subject themselves to (including eating so much) often isn't healthy, at least in the long term.

While greater physical activity will help many of us become healthier - no secret there - exercise will not replace or make up for a poor diet. I think a person would be physically healthier remaining a couch potato and eating a diet consisting of a moderate amount of hundreds if not thousands of whole foods than they would be if they decided to run five miles a day and stick to the 99 cent menu.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 5:39PM
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It seems to me that the hunter gatherer life style can't be faked. Eating like a bodybuilder to create a super human physique is the antithesis it seems to me. I think maybe hunter gatherers would eat the amount of food Mark James is talking about but then eat only grass until the next kill or harvest.This would certainly explain the mechanics of a body that stores stuff away, right? so that if you eat everyday like it may be the last food for a week or two and watch a movie about hunting instead of

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 6:36PM
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Well, no one can say that walking is boring for the Hadza. :-)

Okay, I finally read the other earlier links.

The NatGeo article was interesting, as usual. A very unusual hunter-gatherer culture exists, but a little of it is dependent on trade with modern culture (tobacco, marijuana, tire tread shoes).

The Hadza have evolved to fit their environmental niche, like the rest of us. Anyhow, they are perfectly matched to their way of life. Their isolation has made them unique and kept them from change.

"Which leaves the blame for the dis-health epidemic squarely where it belongs: on high-energy foods empty of real nutrition."

I'm not sure I completely agree with this conclusion. It appears that some of the research also disagrees. The cites in your linked article lead to other studies and citations of some interesting findings.

There are some big differences in fat oxidation and circulating leptin levels between the formerly-obese and the never-obese. The lower leptin levels in the formerly-obese probably results in more frequent or on-going bouts of hunger, which is why so many fall off the wagon eventually.

So you have a situation where the formerly-obese must battle the call of hunger while the never-obese rarely have to think about it because they are just not as hungry.

The lower fat oxidation means that the formerly-obese burn calories more slowly than the never-obese. The research in this area is very interesting and barely into the toddler stage, so there is a ways to go.

This is a problem that is more likely to be resolved by molecular biologists than by food faddists. I also would not be surprised to learn there may be some pathogen, a virus or bacterium for example, that might speak to the issue of increasing obesity rates, perhaps one that alters body chemistry or maybe affects hunger signals.

I'm also curious about this dis-health epidemic. People are living longer and being productive longer than at any other time in history. Cardiac death rates are down and cancer death rates are down. Considering this, there's an incongruity between the numbers and the assumption that so many people are unhealthy.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 9:19PM
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A pathogen that causes obesity? That's an unusual idea, to me.

People are living longer in some populations, I believe because the diseases of poverty - which are decreasing in some large populations - kill at an average younger age than degenerative diseases.

Are individuals productive longer? In total years or as a percentage of lifespan? Since so many occupations can be done in less than good health I'm not sure that is an argument that most people are healthy.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 11:28PM
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There's some very interesting data out there on the fairly significant differences in the intestinal flora/fauna around the world. You also have a fairly well established genetic (maybe intestinal microbe) basis for tolerance/intolerance to some foods, eg milk, wheat, alcohol. I think its also apparent that an individual can adapt their own intestinal bugs to diet - eg eat beans long enough, you quit producing the gas.

But still, comparing the day-to-day physical activity of peoples around the world, we certainly come out on the lazy end of the curve.

As far as diet goes, aside from the vegetable aisle, just about everything else in a grocery store is high caloric density food.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 10:49AM
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I don't know, Dave, I keep eating beans, and the gas stays fairly present :)

Seriously, though, that is a big reason I have made major investment in growing larger amounts of dry legumes, my experience generally is that beans less than a year old digest much better than bought ones.

Regarding the variance in intestinal flora, I think there is little doubt. I almost think that there is a legume family for everyone. Pisum sativum, when dry, is about the worst for me. No pea-soup anymore, which is a drag. I have a bunch of dry fava beans this year, we'll see how they do for digestibility.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:28AM
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Every year, I grow a longer and longer row of favas, but manage to eat them all long before the dry stage....... I'm going to replant here pretty quick, see if I can get a fall crop.

I did, however, once figure out that buying 5 lbs of organic fava 'seed' was about half the price of buying dry fava beans in a grocery store. Figuring its the same thing. They tasted the same, anyway.

Still sticking to the local, dry land pinto beans as the legume mainstay. Yet to find anything as good, although I'll allow a pot of black beans now and again, and then there's summer salads with navy beans, which - it turns out, is a new favorite dish for my kids.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:33AM
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As a layperson, it is my opinion that there are too many variables involved in "Western world" populations to get an accurate set of data by which to measure a whole lot, and come up with consistent information.

For example, and just looking at the USA... chemically or genetically altered food items, the inorganic substances we are (knowingly or unknowingly) exposed to on a daily basis through air/touch/ingestion, etc... and the amounts, whether residual or not, over long periods of time. What about substances that once were common, but are now banned? Recent ancestors may have been exposed, and we don't yet know whether or how everything correlates to some issues of today. What about the changes people make in habit/health/diet/substance exposure/etc.?

I'm no scientist, or chemist, nor do I have a background in any college level study in any of this... but it seems fairly obvious to me that we live in an ever changing world of mixed toxins, lab created or genetically altered foods, pollutants... that our species has gone through so many exposures and changes over the decades... since the time before any industrial revolution began... not to mention cultural habits... the variables in genetics, of mixing many different ethnicities/races... that there are simply too many variables to account for if we're to be considered a "group", or even 20 groups.

Whereas, using one tribe that has remained virtually the same for decades, with few changes in habit or exposure or genetics, as the other "group"...

I don't know...

We know that every living thing is comprised of genetic information and the environmental stimuli it is exposed to. We know that in genetic evolution, form follows function.

So, I would say that inactivity is only one of many variables that has led us toward obesity in greater numbers. And I think there are a lot of factors that we aren't even accounting for.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 11:18AM
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A pathogen that causes obesity? That's an unusual idea, to me.

I think we already brought up the possibility that gm food could be such a pathogen.

This is one of the findings of an international project researching gm food;

As part of the project, a group of rats were fed corn which had been genetically modified for pest resistance. Over a period of 90 days they became slightly fatter than the control group of rats fed non-GM corn. The same effect occurred where rats were fed fish which, in turn, had eaten GM corn.

It goes on to say changes were found in several organs from the subjects eating gm food.

Maybe it is the food and not the lack of activity that is the problem.

Here is a link that might be useful: science nordic

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 6:42PM
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"Maybe it is the food and not the lack of activity that is the problem."

Indeed, and the point of the OP.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 6:47PM
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Thinking out loud. I was a little skeptical since some of the obese people I see can barely walk around. It's hard to believe the activity level can be equal to anything other than those most like them.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 8:02PM
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