Obesity driven by overconsumption of protein-mimicking carbs and fats


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Big Ag requires a skewed food pyramid with carbs at the base for maximum product profitability in relation to expense.

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I’m puzzled. I thought that there was a significant problem of people consuming too much animal protein, and that was contributing to obesity.


What are these savory-flavored, low-protein, cheap processed foods that we’re eating tons of? They don’t give a single example. I eat a lot of shitty, low-protein food myself, but it doesn’t taste like meat.


Any crisps, savoury crackers, “bacon flavoured”/“smoked” snacks… Eating crisps instead of protein, i can totally see it. In fact i reckon i’ve done it enough times.


What are the best foods to eat to counter this? Is it just more meat and eggs, or is there more to it?

The single, and most basic cause of obesity is entirely thermodynamic. More calories are consumed than are used. The problem here is that protein has fewer usable calories per gram, so when our protein fat and carb sensing hardware gets screwed with, we crave what would be a normal amount of protein, but eat much more calorie-dense carbs and fat that taste like protein.

The only way to counter it is to know what you’re eating, and making sure that your diet is correctly balanced with a lot of vegetables and fruit, some meat and dairy, useful carbs, fats and protein from stuff like seeds and nuts and legumes and pulses, and trying to cut back on sugar, grease, salt and empty carbs.

I can’t say I adhere to the advice, but that’s the typical information given.


And yet, study after study shows that bigger-bodied people, in aggregate, don’t eat differently from smaller-bodied people, in aggregate. But I guess the search for a way to blame and stigmatize fat people, while ignoring the fact that some medium and thin people eat just the same way, never gets boring.


This answer is technically correct, but misses the point. The issue is entirely about getting people to eat healthily, so saying “people just have to eat healthily” is no answer at all.
On a high level, we basically know what individuals should do to have a healthy lifestyle, and it involves more or less what you say plus plenty of exercise. There is a trend to fixate on a single dietary or lifestyle issue and say “aha! I have the solution, it’s the carbs!”, or “It’s the protein-mimicking carbs and fats!”. I strongly suspect (without strong quantitative evidence) that the problem comes down a highly complex interplay of social factors with ready availability of cheap energy. If so, the solution has to be social and so the issue is how to persuade people to live a healthy lifestyle.


I agree completely. The mechanical solution of eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of exercise will largely fail as long as the economics of food and sedentary work, and the political and social system designed to impoverish the majority while enriching a small minority is fixed to encourage healthier lifestyles.


At this point, we’ve considered every explanation we can imagine, and nothing is a satisfactory explanation for the increasing rates of obesity.

What’s Causing the Rise in Obesity? Everything.

The Obesity Era

From the latter article,

Consider, for example, this troublesome fact, reported in 2010 by the biostatistician David B Allison and his co-authors at the University of Alabama in Birmingham: over the past 20 years or more, as the American people were getting fatter, so were America’s marmosets. As were laboratory macaques, chimpanzees, vervet monkeys and mice, as well as domestic dogs, domestic cats, and domestic and feral rats from both rural and urban areas. In fact, the researchers examined records on those eight species and found that average weight for every one had increased. The marmosets gained an average of nine per cent per decade.

It can’t be a simple matter of thermodynamics, or of particular culturally-influenced dietary choices that can easily be remedied, because even wild animals are becoming obese.


Sorry, but what wild animals would that be? The only species mentioned are “feral rats”, which happen to live near humans, where an abundance of cheap and fattening food literally lies around everywhere.


I believe he mentioned marmosets, which I have no idea where they live, so it couldn’t be near me. They probably count as wild animals - or are pet marmosets all the rage somewhere out west where I’ve never lived?

A few other possible factors are viruses, BPA, and pesticides, but those are harder to understand and less fun as a popular discussion. Also, what @Elusis said.

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I wish I could like this more than once.

It has to be a matter of thermodynamics because if that weren’t true we’d be talking about a major world-shaking change in our understanding of the universe and how it works. (OK, possibly thermodynamics doesn’t apply here, maybe this is something else like, I don’t know, maybe the general expansion of the universe over time expressing itself at personal scale, but that would be really extraordinary and require some world-shaking proof, and would not be a safe starting assumption.)

However, it’s not simply a matter of thermodynamics, because the thermodynamic model still needs to include what happens once you eat, with consideration that the system itself is changed by the environment, and that food being inside your body is not the same thing as having been digested and incorporated into your body proper. Your gut microbiome still gets to have its say, for example, and of course much of what you eat never becomes part of your body at all, simply exiting instead. And obviously the thermodynamic system defined at the boundary of your body takes as inputs the things you choose to feed it, which choices are heavily influenced by environment, social and otherwise.

Marmosets are South American animals, which a also bred and sold as pets in North America. From the rather flimsy article I’m going with “probably not wild animals”.

About @elusis: Yes, as a fat person I detest the fact that I have colleagues who eat the same as I do and yet don’t get weight. Yet if I ate less, differently and had some more physical activity, I’d weigh less. And nearly every other „big bodied“ person would, too.

It’s not that we are helpless victims of gut bacteria, genetics, strange viruses, etc - that stuff was always there. The main factor, sad as it is, seems to be the intake of calories, which increases with an overabundance of cheap food. Cheap in every meaning of the word. As soon as a country’s wealth rises, so do the population’s scales.


I keep reading articles where some scientist declares that obesity is caused by - take your choice: a) trans fats b) lack of vitamin d c) food engineering of wheat d) food engineering of sugar e) microbes in the gut f) artificial light or any other host of causes.

I’ve read up on the research from credible sources and I can’t make heads or tails of what it means for me.

I have had a policy of not undertaking fad diets but working with nutritionists when I have lost weight. I’m very good at dieting and exercising and have very successfully stuck to a program for years at a time. Still, there are times when my weight will balloon up very quickly and then to lose the weight again is another long, long round of diet and exercise.

I eat healthy foods. I like vegetables. I eat only high qualify olive oil and coconut oil that have not been deodorized. The only fast food I eat is the egg and bacon sandwich from Starbucks. I love sugar and any diet I undertake is all about limiting my sugar intake, but sugar hasn’t really changed in the last few years.

I look at old movies and the people seem so naturally slim, and we all look so bloated now.


How does anything you’ve said contradict the article in question? Genetics certainly plays a big part in why some people gain put on weight while others don’t regardless of nearly identical lifestyles and diets; but changing diets and more sedentary lifestyles is certainly contributing to rising obesity rates and obesity related health problems. There is plenty of evidence to support both of these facts, and they’re not mutually exclusive.

This is not about stigmatising people, this is about understanding how as a society we are producing less and less healthy lifestyles.

Absolutely. We sit all the time and we consume far, far more food than we need to and we use our bodies far less than they evolved for.

All the specifics - is it sugar, fat, protein, carbs in general, take people drugs that help them gain weight - are secondary, if not marginal problems, which apply to some individuals but not others.

However, social engineering is tricky. Is it even ethical to nudge people away from a lifestyle they like? They reproduce, they do they work, hey, they die a little earlier, but if that’s their things, who am I to judge? This isn’t like “banning smoking”, which only harms others when done indoors or banning lead in fuel.

Is it ethical to nudge people away from a lifestyle they enjoy? I don’t know, why don’t you ask these guys.

I think a little nudging in order to open our eyes to the crap we consume is clearly ethical.

That is true. However, our brain continues to crave protein no matter how much of it we eat because it evolved long before supermarkets.  Evolution moves a lot slower than human “civilization”.

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