America’s Poisoned Populace

The shape of the nation? It’s projected that 40% of American adults will be obese by 2030.

by Jill Escher, author, “Farewell, Club Perma-Chub: A Sugar Addict’s Guide to Easy Weight Loss”

A new program, “The Weight of the Nation,” premieres tonight on HBO, so I admit to writing this column without the benefit of having seen the actual show.  But just by perusing the website,, one can easily discern that here’s yet another well intentioned but misguided effort to slim down America, parroting the same old “eat less, move more” conventional wisdom that’s been proven time and again to not work.  The trick to weight loss, says their website, is as follows:

“The term “energy balance” refers to the balance between the energy (calories) you take in through foods and drinks and the energy you burn. When your body is in positive energy balance, you are taking in more calories than you are burning. Your body stores extra energy as fat. When you take in less energy than you burn, your body is in negative energy balance, and your body burns fat for fuel.

“Most effective weight loss plans include changes to both diet and physical activity to achieve negative energy balance. Having an imbalance of 500 to 1,000 calories per day can lead to weight loss of about 1 to 2 pounds per week.”

In other words, they say, “You Will Lose Weight if You Are Miserable and Hungry and Sweat a Lot While Being Miserable and Hungry.” One thing we know, for sure, is that a weight loss plan that entails feelings hunger or deprivation will not only fail, it will backfire because our age-old hormonal signaling system will make us to anything (cookie binge, anyone?) to relieve our state of hunger.  Low calorie diets invariably result in dieters regaining the weight, and then some more.  Weight of the Nation also gives patently backwards food advice, urging dieters to:

“Eat 6 ounces of grains. At least half the grains you eat should be whole grains (such as 100% whole wheat breads, whole-grain cereal, and brown rice). One-ounce examples include: 1 slice of bread, 1 cup dry cereal, or 1/2 cup cooked pasta, rice, or cereal.”  And to:

“Dig into dairy. Eat 3 cups a day of low-fat or fat-free dairy, such as milk, cheese or yogurt.” And to:

“Go lean with protein.” And to:

“Choose foods low in saturated fats and cholesterol…. Keep total fat intake between 20 and 35 percent of your total daily calories.”

Yes, indeed, the same old, same old, that ol’ dogma-driven advice that hasn’t helped one bit in the past several decades to stem the rising tide of obesity and diabetes.  The writers appear to have not noticed that (1) the human metabolism does not operate under the laws of thermodynamics; (2) grains are basically nutrient-lite sugars that drive up insulin, and therefore the storage of fat; (3) low-fat and non-fat foods having higher proportions of sugars, and are not satiating in the way of real fats; (4) lean protein without the naturally occurring fats are less nutritious, and satisfying; and (5) dietary fat and cholesterol has very little relationship with blood serum fat and cholesterol–those lipids are driven high by dietary sugars, not fats.

That said, the series does seem to have some redeeming qualities — it urges drinking water instead of sodas, minimizing processed foods, cutting down on sugar, and eating lots of colorful veggies.  But the recommendations as a whole are solidly based, unquestioningly, on the carb-heavy, low-fat USDA Dietary Guidelines that made us obese in the first place.

So, what’s the right advice?

The mammoth health debacle that is the obesity epidemic is fueled not by a sudden inexplicable human quest for more calories, but rather by a biochemical tampering unprecedented in history.  This biochemical malfeasance is a nice way to say “We’ve been poisoned.”  By refined sugars, processed carbohydrates, faux-foods engineered from chemical substrates.  These poisons (for indeed, they make us ill, and are far from nourishing substances) wreak havoc with our metabolism and neurochemistry, and launch a cascade of biochemical consequences that results in often massive accumulation of fat.

So, what’s the answer?

The answer — one you won’t hear in Weight of the Nation — is to eschew the engineered and refined foods that trigger this biochemical disarray and return to eating, get this!, REAL FOOD.  If America dumped the processed crud, including sugars, flours, packaged and prepared foods, vegetable oils, etc, we would have no obesity or diabetes epidemic.  Humans have been eating Real Food since time immemorial, so why not resume this state of normalcy? I think it’s because we’re firmly in a state of addiction to them, and can’t fathom life without our muffins, pizzas, pastas, cookies, chocolates, ice creams, and chips.  Yes, our poisons are powerful indeed.

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