Friday, June 22, 2007

A weight loss lesson from Mexico

Why do people gain too much weight? Why do they get obese? In my opinion, understanding the reasons is the first of many important steps in weight loss. Let's have a look at Mexican schoolkids. They may teach us a lesson.

More than seven hundred schoolchildren of Mexico City have been surveyed by questions about their food supply and by measuring their body mass index (BMI). It came out that children at the first level of the 5-level famine scale are at double risk of obesity compared to the zero famine level.

The first famine level is not yet famine but is called food insecurity: In a still cohesive social system the food prices are unstable, seasonal shortages occur and reversible coping strategies are taken to overcome the situation.

The result of the Mexican study is easy to understand. As soon as fear of starvation begins to emerge, an old survival reflex is set to action: Eat as much as you can, get as many calories as you can afford, buy cheap fatty cereals and sweets. The same survival reflex is also responsible for the yo-yo effect because it is turned on by a strict low-calorie diet, signalling stress and food insecurity to body and mind.

Less stress, less weight

Now let's flip the coin. Its positive face tells us that it must be easier to lose weight if we get rid of food-related stress. Eat slowly: The longer it takes, the more is your body «convinced» that it has got enough. Savour your food: Sensations are important, and the more units of them you get from a given amount of food, the less food will be required to satisfy this need. Select high quality food: This makes it easier to eat slowly and to savour plus it will give your body most of the nutrients it needs, again with smaller amounts of food.

In other words, do exactly the opposite of someone who is in danger of a famine. And this goes beyond food. Be ready to waste your energy by going for sports regularly.

Wikipedia: Food security, famine scales

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