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Processed foods – "the" cause of obesity!

Dr. Robert H. Lustig, pediatric endocrinologist and nationally renowned obesity expert at the University of California, San Francisco, says that the obesity epidemic// is caused by a "poisoned" food supply that is changing people's biochemistry and driving them to eat more and move less. He proposed this hypothesis that was published on Aug. 11 in Nature Clinical Practice: Endocrinology and Metabolism, after gathering results from thousands of studies on obesity. He says that it is unjust and of no use to blame personal behaviors, especially a lack of self-control, for the country's rising obesity rates.

Processed foods like potato chips, cookies, yogurt and white bread are readily available to Americans. These foods are rich in sugars that cause the body to believe it is hungry, which makes people feel compelled to consume more calories and conserve energy, he said.

“Sugar makes the body produce more insulin, which blocks hormones that would normally tell the brain to stop eating”, he said.

According to Lustig, the pattern of sugar consumption is similar to nicotine addiction and it takes more than just will power to change it. To get rid of these sugary foods from mainstream American diets, it will take a mass effort of doctors, community leaders and consumers.

However, Lustig’s hypothesis is doubted by obesity experts who are hesitating to label overweight people as victims of their food supply with not a lot of hope to lose weight without major changes in America's food culture.

Definitely, there is a link between obesity, people’s diet and activity level but Lustig has not tried to prove his hypothesis with laboratory trials. It was based on the results of obesity studies published between 1994 and 2005.

"I disagree with some of the details, particularly regarding the effects of insulin, and I think some of it is fairly speculative," said Dr. Peter Havel, a nutrition researcher at UC Davi
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