High Performance Weight Loss: A Solution for America’s Weight Problems (Part 1)

The weight crisis in this country has reached unprecedented levels in both adults and children. To understand the extent of the problem, consider that 80% of Americans over age 25 and 33% of children are overweight or obese according to official U.S. government figures. This translates to 145 million adults and 18 million children! Overall, 60% of Americans of all ages tip the scales well above their ideal weight.

Although insurance carriers do not consider excess weight to be a disease, there is substantial evidence that overweight people have an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, asthma and mortality from all causes. Life expectancy has been increasing for more than a century. However, this trend will come to a halt – or even reverse itself – if obesity rates continue to rise.

Body mass index (BMI) is a calculated number that can give you an idea of where you fit in. It is based on population averages and may not be accurate in all cases, but it is a good place to start. To calculate your BMI follow these steps (example refers to an individual 5’10 inches tall weighing 225 pounds):

1. Multiply your weight by 703 (225 x 703 = 158,175)
2. Square your height in inches (70 x 70 = 4,900)
3. Divide the Step 1 total by the Step 2 total (158,175 divided by 4,900 = 32.28)

If your BMI is above 25 (22 for children) you are considered overweight, and if it is greater than 30 (25 for children) you are considered obese.

The bottom line is that there is something wrong with how we eat, how much we eat, and how we feed our children. Foods that many Americans consider appropriate for children actually contribute to this crisis.

Type 2 or non-insulin-dependent diabetes used to be called “adult onset” because it occurred mostly in aging, overweight adults. It is now being diagnosed in children and teens at a rate of 123,000 new diagnoses per year, a six-fold (600%) increase over the past ten years. Overall, 10% of Americans age 20 and up have this deadly disease, up 50% from ten years ago. Complications of diabetes include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, kidney failure, blindness, amputations, dental disease, and many others.

Since 1992 the U.S. government has recommended that Americans use a food pyramid originally designed by the Department of Agriculture as a guide to a healthy diet. Yet, over the last ten years, the country’s weight crisis exploded. Reasonable people might assume that, before recommending this diet for all Americans, the government carried out studies on its effects. In reality, not a single study was conducted. The diet was endorsed due to lobbying from the food industry and vague notions that it would encourage low-fat and heart-healthy eating.

This food pyramid recommends that Americans consume 6 to 11 servings of breads, pasta and cereal every day. These are the very foods that are now known to have high glycemic loads, causing significant imbalances in blood sugar and ultimately triggering uncontrolled cravings. The pyramid also recommends that only 2 to 3 servings of protein be consumed every day and that all fats and oils be used sparingly.

Using the food pyramid as a guide for healthy eating is a recipe for disaster because satiety, the feeling that one has eaten enough, is triggered by a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK is produced only when enough protein and fat are eaten. Carbohydrates do not trigger this hormone, so when people eat mostly carbohydrates, they have trouble knowing when they’ve had enough to eat. This explains why it is so hard for many people to put down an open bag of chips, but it is rare that anyone would binge on a food like hard-boiled eggs.

Part 2 of High Performance Weight Loss will appear in a future issue.

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