Obesity is not simply an American issue according to this article published recently in the United Kingdom.  Indeed, wherever in the world a surplus of food exists, obesity seems to follow.  The question posed by the author is whether or not some people are genetically predisposed to weight-gain due to a more active survival mechanism to conserve energy.  Certainly, it’s a logical argument that in historical times, when food was not as plentiful and/or meals were not regularly eaten, our bodies were programmed to store as much energy (calories), as fat due to the unknown time lapse to the next meal.  That way, these excess calories could be used during lean times where food was not available.  This argument is for “nature.”

The counter argument, “nurture,” can be summed up in the phrase used by the author, “eat less, move more.”  The human body is nothing more than a machine, albeit incredibly complex.  It requires energy, food – which provides calories, to fuel the bodily systems responsible for movement, cognition, and maintenance (cell reproduction).  These actions require specific, stereotyped amounts of energy to perform.  Therefore, higher levels of activity require greater amounts of energy. For example, an office worker sitting at a desk all day uses fewer calories to function than, say, an urban postal carrier who walks all day.  Generally speaking, if these two workers were to intake the same amount of calories on a given day, the office worker would be more likely to gain weight due to the excess calories being stored as fat, because they did not expend the same amount of energy (in the form of movement) as the postal carrier.

Ultimately, both arguments are valid and therefore must be handled concurrently.  Nature has provided a system in which our bodies are capable of functioning during times of food shortages.  However, in this age of food surplus, it takes self restraint on the part of the individual to limit their caloric intake, especially if they know that they are not active.  Calorie-rich foods, such as chocolate, do not need to be totally avoided but moderated.  Surgeries such as gastric bypass and gastric sleeve may be effective in reducing weight, but at a cost.  It may take more effort to control one’s weight through lifestyle modification (healthy eating, exercise), but this option carries less risk and is much less costly to the individual.  Surgeries should always be treated as a ‘last resort.’  So, if you, yourself, are overweight and considering surgery, ask yourself, “Have I really tried to lose this weight on my own.”


Written by Industrial Health, a specialized Workers’ Compensation therapy center which services Northern Virginia , Sterling , Loudoun , Fairfax , Dulles , Chantilly , Leesburg , Ashburn , Herndon , Reston , Centreville ; and offers programs including Physical Therapy , Functional Capacity Evaluations ( FCE ) , Work Hardening , Work Conditioning , Work Simulation , Impairment Rating , Permanent Partial Disability Rating

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