Energy Crisis (Part 3) – Why are we getting fat?
Basically, weight gain is the result of an imbalance between energy consumption and energy expenditure. This balance is partly regulated by our genetics, our environment, and psychosocial factors. One, or many of these factors, has gotten members of our society to consume more than we expend, or to expend less than we consume. At the same time we have noticed that “spare tire” gathering around our waists.
When we examine the trend in our global population gaining weight, we observe for example, that in western countries, individuals are gaining at an average of half a kilogram per year. This equals approximately 10-15 kilocalories a day of unexpended energy.
As many people have a positive energy balance and storing energy actually expends energy, researchers have suggested that a one hundred-kilocalorie decrease in daily energy intake OR a one hundred-kilocalorie increase in energy expenditure will prevent weight gain in almost anyone. Quickly calculated, this means that you should eat only one large banana less per day or walk for and additional half an hour per day in order to keep your weight in check.
Although energy balance looks like child’s play on paper, our current societal structure has made losing weight difficult. Traditionally fast-food chains, larger portion sizes, fat, sugar, additives and less physical activity can be blamed for weight gain. Euro/Dollar cheeseburgers take a huge bite out of television advertisements and our untouched running shoes weigh heavily on our conscience.
A few more facts:
– 67% of Finnish people blame weight gain on lack of physical activity/exercise
– 38% of Finnish people and 75% of Americans blame fast-food for weight gain
– One in five Finns and up to 70% of Russians blame genetics for weight gain
– 48% of Finns believe that too much focus is put on weight, but 83% have tried to lose weight at least once