It’s no secret that obesity and overweight are problems in today’s world and have been for a while, especially with obesity’s spread across the globe since 1975. However, nutritional data from the 1970s can tell a surprising story, and not just an American one, either.
In Britain, the obesity story is similar to that of the United States: obesity is more common today than it was in previous decades. However, surprising statistics about caloric intake between 1976 and today show that it isn’t simply because British people were eating more. In 1976, the Brits consumed just under 2600 calories per day, yet today they consume only 2130 calories a day.
Is it because they exercised more in the 1970s, or that there were more workers in manual labor? No – both the International Journal of Epidemiology and the International Journal of Surgery have published studies that contradict these hypotheses. In the former, researchers found that poorer, agriculture-based countries where many people work in farming burn calories no faster than richer, more sedentary countries. Children are, apparently, still getting the same amount of exercise as they did in the 1950s.
In contrast, the United States’ statistics follow the typical hypotheses for the cause of obesity, which were refuted by the British data: we are more overweight because we eat more calories and don’t exercise enough. Recent data published by the U.S. government shows that people in the United States are eating, on average, 600 calories more per day than they did in 1970. About 28% of all Americans over 6 years old report being physically inactive. With the high use of cell phones, computers, and TVs, it is not a surprise that so few are physically active in our country.
So why the increase in obesity across the globe, when countries like Britain do not see negative changes in caloric intake or exercise?
The most convincing arguments by clinicians and nutritionists are that we are eating differently in terms of nutrients, rather than simply overdoing it in calories. A study published by the Global Burden of Diseases group concluded that sodium intake has increased in virtually every country in the world between 1990 and 2010, and those countries on average are consuming more than the recommended amount of sodium. A rise in carbohydrate intake could also be to blame. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, total fat consumption has increased over the decades, along with the spread of fast food restaurants. These nutrient deficiencies (and overabundances) are likely more to blame for the global rise in obesity rather than simple increase in calories eaten.
Regardless of the country, the global trends surrounding nutrition and obesity are not necessarily as straightforward as understood by our skinny-obsessed culture. This was seen in the surprising results found when examining data from Great Britain. Complex trends in changing nutritional content are why it is critical to the success of a weight loss plan to consult a qualified physician. Doctors like ours at Physician’s Weight Control and Wellness are highly trained, with over 55 years of experience in the obesity management field. They are experts on this topic and can help you navigate these changing global developments successfully. With the right advice and supervision, you can step off the path of weight gain and onto the trail toward a healthy lifestyle.