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Do Certain Carbs Cause Overweight and Obesity?

Hormonal changes may be the culprit.

Person with overweight and obesity holding carbs

A team of 17 internationally recognized scientists published a paper in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, supported by more than 169 journal references, proposing that the obesity epidemic in America is not caused just by consuming too many calories (i.e., overeating). Instead, they reckon that overweight and obesity are caused primarily by hormonal changes brought on by eating refined carbohydrates and sugar-added foods.

These foods cause a high rise in blood sugar that increases hormone insulin secretion of the hormone insulin which, in turn, causes changes in metabolism that signal fat cells to store more calories. This leaves fewer calories available to fuel muscles and other metabolically active tissues like the brain and heart. The brain perceives that the body isn’t getting enough energy, which, in turn, leads to feelings of hunger.

This challenges the “energy balance model,” which says weight gain occurs because individuals consume more energy than they expend. And perhaps why public health messaging exhorting people to eat less and exercise more has failed to stem rising rates of overweight and obesity, as well as related diseases.

Do you agree that there is some merit to this carbohydrate-insulin model for obesity? Does focusing on what we eat rather than how much we eat a better strategy for weight management? Are you in the camp that calories-in, calories-out, is still a leading player in body weight? Does this paper fail to recognize dietary fat as a leading cause of weight gain in Americans? Send your answers to Sandy Todd Webster at [email protected]

See also: Fewer Carbs May Increase Your Metabolic Rate

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