Is Laziness really the cause of Obesity?

  • AUTHOR: fiona
  • POSTED ON: December 3, 2019

Obesity has been a major problem for people all around the world. A 2016 study conducted in the United States revealed that 37.9% of men and 41.1% of women were obese and the numbers are rising with each year. When the problem began to shoot during the 1950s, researchers carried out various experiments to get to the root of the problem.

Source: Youtube

In the 1960s, scientists predominantly agreed on obesity being the by-product of laziness. They believed that it was a self-created problem- one that could be solved if people took the initiative of moving and exercising. However, the conventional beliefs (that persist today as well) were nullified with close observation and precise case studies. 

One such research was conducted in 1971 with the inmates of Vermont State Prison. The seminal study proved that laziness was not the leading cause of growing obesity among adults. Instead, it was linked to multiple factors like genetic make-up, culture and surroundings of a person. 

The prison study guaranteed the inmates reduced jail-time for volunteering. The interesting part of the research was that it did not test people with obesity. Instead, it changed the diets of people with average weights through close observation.

The three prime features of the study consisted of monitoring their actual weights, causing them to gain additional pounds, and then changing their diets back to acquire the previous normal weight. 

Source: BBC

As the inmates increased in size over the course of a few months, the doctors and scientists involved in the study analyzed the changes in their bodies and the reactions to the transitions.

They found that most inmates gained weight with additional diets due to excessive fat. The first few months of study resulted in an average increase of 20.9% in their weights that roughly translates to an extra 35 pounds for each inmate! But as soon as their diets were reduced to the normal intake, all the inmates returned to their original size within ten weeks.

All the while, the researchers noticed that during overfeeding, the fat cells in their bodies increased in size by consuming more energy through the liquid, but the initial number of cells remained constant. This study opened doors for further research and prompted the factual data that scientists now have regarding the function of fat cells. 

Moreover, this provides the logical reasoning behind why chronically obese people face difficulties when they are trying to lose weight. Our bodies are designed to maintain the demands of the original shape and reducing the number of fat cells is out of their control. These cells develop during youth, and it is only through intense calorie-intake or diet reduction that they can be altered. 

Source: The Economic Times

A university professor at Louisiana State University, George A. Bray, was fascinated with the study and dedicated half of his career to analyzing the general metabolism of the society. He believes that people do and become obese consciously. Instead, it “slips upon them and once present, it is difficult to reverse” the process. The research certainly proves that.

Therefore, the archaic beliefs of eating less and working out more contributing to a loss in weight can be nullified as these are not effective measures of preventing or treating obesity.

Updated December 3, 2019
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