Carbohydrates are a complicated business when it comes to eating healthy and losing weight. It's not easy when the advice seems to contradict itself, with some diets telling people to cut out carbs completely and others touting the benefits of a carb-laden eating plan. However, recent research conducted at the Boston Children's Hospital seems to have finally laid the carb question to rest, as findings suggest that processed carbohydrates are not only bad in themselves but that they can trigger cravings for further calorie-laden, sugary goods.
‘Nature vs. Nurture’, the debate that has been with us for years, has reared its head again. So, the question on everybody’s lips is “can our environment be blamed for obesity or are some people really born to be fat?” David Geffen, of UCLA, recently published findings that suggest the latter (Red Orbit, 2013). After a two-year study, Geffen concluded that obesity is less about what you put in your mouth and more about your DNA, meaning that maybe your genes really are making you fat. But is he right?
In 2007, New Scientist reported a University of Oxford study which showed that around half of the 39,000 people tested had a defective FTO gene (Roxanne Khamsi, 2007). This defect made them 30% more likely to be obese. Moreover, 16% of those tested were found to have a double defect, or the defective gene twice, leading to a massive 70% chance of developing obesity. These are startling statistics, especially given the high regularity of the defective gene. What’s more, this study isn’t alone in supporting nature’s side of the debate.
Timothy Frayling of the University of Exeter examined further research, when he declared that the link between obesity and genetics is stronger than we might think (Timothy Frayling, 2012). Frayling looked into adiposity rates in twins (the rate in which they store fat) and found an extraordinarily high correlation. Similarly, he compared BMI levels of adoptive children to both their adoptive and their biological parents. The biological association was significantly stronger than the adoptive one, suggesting that nurture has less to do with obesity than nature. In fact, Frayling concluded that around 60-70% of weight gain is related genetics rather than environment. With findings like these, it is easy to blame nature for your spare tyre.
Whether you want to get healthier or trying to lose weight, one of your first goals should include avoiding chain restaurants.
It’s probably no surprise that fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s or Burger King sell little -- if anything -- that’s healthy. But what about chain restaurants such as Applebee’s or the Cheesecake Factory? The surprising truth is that these places don’t fare much better.
So what makes chain restaurants so popular? It’s their comfort foods. These preprocessed / prepackaged meals are often loaded with excess calories and saturated fat. Here are just a few examples: Applebee’s sells a provolone-stuffed meatballs dish, which comes with garlic bread and a side of fettuccine pasta. The calorie count? 1,520 per dish. That’s the entire recommended daily intake of calories for women, according to the USDA. On top of that, the dish also contains 43 grams of saturated fat. The recommended daily amount? Only about 15 grams per day on a 1,500-calorie diet. Additionally, the Cheesecake Factory sells a “Bistro Shrimp Pasta, made with a butter and cream sauce and topped with battered, fried shrimp.” The damage? 89 grams of saturated fat and 1,090 milligrams of sodium.
In a 1990 survey, respondents in the United States were asked to identify an activity or activities that consumed a significant portion of their time. Surprisingly, the survey participants ranked television watching as number three after work and sleep (Hive Health Media, 2012). Currently, American households watch an average of 8 hours of television programming each day. More hours than a typical grade school student spends in class or preparing homework.