- Which is the more important cause of obesity: Eating too much food or eating the wrong kinds of food, especially easily digested carbohydrates?
- Although nutrition researchers think they know the answer, investigators have never actually put the question to a rigorous, scientific test—until now.
- Researchers sponsored by the Nutrition Science Initiative will soon address the question by precisely controlling food consumption by volunteers living in a test facility and then rigorously measuring energy expenditure and how it changes with differences in diet composition.
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Why do so many of us get so fat? the answer appears obvious. “The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight,” the World Health Organization says, “is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended.” Put simply, we either eat too much or are too sedentary, or both. By this logic, any excess of calories—whether from protein, carbohydrate or fat (the three main components, or “macronutrients,” in food)—will inevitably pack on the pounds. So the solution is also obvious: eat less, exercise more.
The reason to question this conventional thinking is equally self-evident. The eat less/move more prescription has been widely disseminated for 40 years, and yet the prevalence of obesity, or the accumulation of unhealthy amounts of body fat, has climbed to unprecedented levels. Today more than a third of Americans are considered obese—more than twice the proportion of 40 years ago. Worldwide, more than half a billion people are now obese.
This article was originally published with the title Which One Will Make You Fat?.