Scientists Believe Weight Gain is Caused by What You Eat, Not How Much

© chickaz – Getty Images According to a new study what you eat, rather than how much, has a much bigger role to play in weight gain that we first thought

Weight gain happens because people consume more energy than they expend, right? Well, according to a new study, what you eat, rather than how much, has a much bigger role to play in weight gain that we first thought.

A team of 17 internationally recognised scientists, clinical researchers and public health experts, writing in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, claim that the widely accepted energy-balance model (calories in, calories out) is flawed and many of the world’s obesity problems are in fact caused by the consumption of high-glycemic foods.

High-glycemic foods are characterised by being quickly digested and rapidly raising blood sugar: think highly-processed carbs like white bread, white rice, as well as cakes, cookies and sweet treats. The scientists claim these types of foods cause hormonal responses that fundamentally change our metabolism, which in turn drives fat storage, weight gain and obesity.

“When we eat highly-processed carbohydrates, the body increases insulin secretion and suppresses glucagon secretion,” wrote the study’s authors in a press release. “This, in turn, signals fat cells to store more calories, leaving fewer calories available to fuel muscles and other metabolically active tissues. The brain perceives that the body isn’t getting enough energy, which, in turn, leads to feelings of hunger. In addition, metabolism may slow down in the body’s attempt to conserve fuel. Thus, we tend to remain hungry, even as we continue to gain excess fat.”

The scientists say that despite years of telling people to eat less and exercise more, rates of obesity and obesity-related diseases have continued to rise.

They are now arguing that a shift needs to be made from the energy-balance model to the carbohydrate-insulin model, which, they say, better explains obesity and weight gain and could help people to lose weight in a more pleasant way.

“Reducing consumption of the rapidly digestible carbohydrates that flooded the food supply during the low-fat diet era lessens the underlying drive to store body fat,” said Dr. David Ludwig, an endocrinologist at Boston Children’s hospital and co-author of the study. “As a result, people may lose weight with less hunger and struggle.”

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