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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Six Natural Laws of Weight Gain

With all the talk of "thrifty genes" and how our "hunter-gatherer genome" is overwhelmed by the "obesogenic" environment, it may be time to revisit my favorite theories about the "Natural Laws of Weight Gain".

This is something I came up with almost 10 years ago and have used in a lot of talks over the years. I've always wanted to put these ideas into a book but somehow never got around to it.

Simply stated, my Six Natural Laws of Weight Gain are as follows:

1. Always eat when food is around
2. Always go for the gravy
3. Always eat as fast as possible
4. Always eat as much as possible
5. Don't move if you don't have to
6. When fuel runs short, turn down the furnace

If anyone is thinking, "hey, that's me", you're probably not alone (in fact it's me too!).

If you take a minute to think about it, you'll probably recognize just how deeply these Natural Laws are engrained in our biology and culture and may realize how we've actually designed much of our environment to accommodate these laws.

Suddenly terms like "mindless eating", "fast"food restaurants, "all-you-can-eat" buffets, "poutine", "super-size it" and "couch potato" take on a whole new meaning.

While through the millennia of evolution these Natural Laws guaranteed the survival of our species, in our current obesogenic environment, they also pretty much guarantee weight gain.

As I have often pointed out in my talks: "In today's obesogenic environment, people have to develop "abnormal" behaviors to avoid gaining weight".

Doing things that came "naturally" to most of us is a surefire recipe for weight gain - in today's enviroment, fighting obesity literally means going against our "nature"! No wonder it is so hard to do.

OK, I realize that by now some of you are screaming that this must be wrong, that I am grossly oversimplifying the complex psychosociobiology of obesity, and that I am just providing obese people with an easy "excuse" to blame it all on nature.

Of course I realize that in reality things are way more complex and that there are many paths that lead to obesity ranging from childhood molestation to antipsychotics or from genetic defects to endocrine abnormalities (the list of possible causes if far longer than you may think!).

Nevertheless, I do believe that perhaps with the exception of such "special causes" the Natural Laws do provide a reasonable and useful framework for thinking about the root causes of the current obesity epidemic.

So in the next couple of weeks, I will be occasionally revisiting this theme and hope to explore some of these laws and how they apply to our current dilemma.

Perhaps the title of my book should be: "The Six Natural Laws of Weight Gain and How to Break Them"!

I wish someday to actually find time to write it - I could probably have a lot of fun with this.


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