If you want to lose weight, eat less and exercise more. This simple law of thermodynamics is the underlying principle of weight loss, and a mantra of fitness and nutrition professionals everywhere. But what if it wasn’t true? What if this causal pathway takes a left turn when it comes to weight loss? Clearly something else is in play, otherwise our epidemic of obesity would be eradicated by now.
Thus far in the fight against obesity the weight of responsibility has fallen upon the individual; meaning if you are overweight it is due to a personal failure of will power. David S. Ludwig of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Mark I. Friedman, a vice president of research at the Nutrition Science Initiative have been exploring the “catch-22” of losing weight. Specifically they have been examining the concept that it may not be overeating that causes us to get fat, but the process of getting fatter that causes us to overeat.
This concept of a vicious bio-feedback loop has been around for more than a century, but hasn’t received much real scientific examination until recently. This lack of study may be due to long standing cultural attitudes on personal control over weight-loss, or possibly because there are major food industries that derive enormous profits from the types of food that place a body in the “catch-22” loop. Whatever the reasons for the historic dearth of research, we now have access to a growing body of work that addresses an underlying biological drive to overeat. This line of inquiry may ultimately prove to be more effective in our battle against the bulge than just telling ourselves to eat less.
If you have any interest in how the human body stores and burns fat, please read more on this issue at: