What’s Behind the Recent Rise in Obesity Rates

Let’s Not Sugarcoat Obesity’s Leading Causes

Tue, 2015-12-01 14:15

For the first time since 2004, obesity rates are climbing in the United States.

The news – recently released in a CDC report – took many by surprise. How could this have happened, headlines wondered, despite widespread national efforts to prevent obesity? In spite of Let’s Move? In spite of a 25 percent drop in consumption of sugary, full-calorie sodas over the last two decades?


There are plenty of reasons to exercise and plenty of reasons to limit sugar, but the truth is, neither would be enough to stem the obesity epidemic. Studies show that exercise, despite all its benefits, cannot compensate for poor eating habits when it comes to weight loss.

For the most part, too much sugar and too little exercise sugarcoat the real issue at hand: We’re eating meat and dairy products in quantities that our grandparents never imagined.

Obesity was all but unheard of a century ago in the United States. By 1970, about 11 percent of the population qualified as obese. Today, that number stands at 36 percent. So what did happen?

Since 1970, our overall energy intake has risen by about 500 calories per day. Where are most of these extra calories coming from? The bulk is from meat, eggs, dairy products, and added fats, which account for an extra 287 calories every day. That adds up to about four extra pounds per year.

Let’s rewind another 60 years. Compared to 1909, we now consume 60 more pounds of meat per person each year. Cheese consumption has soared from just four pounds per person in 1909 to more than 30 pounds today, making it a leading source of saturated fat in Americans’ diets.

Eating 100 more pounds of meat and cheese – along with saturated fat and cholesterol – every year has, not surprisingly, only made us gain weight and get sick.

Decades of science confirm that our waistlines would benefit from simply moving the animal products off our plates. Last year, my colleagues and I analyzed 15 major studies and concluded that vegetarian diets consistently lead to weight loss, even without calorie restriction or exercise. And long-term observational studies show that vegetarian—especially vegan—populations are the trimmest and healthiest on the planet.

It’s time to stop the sweet talk: Meat and dairy are the real drivers of the obesity epidemic, and setting them aside will help solve it.

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes!


Finally a healthy cooking show!  I have really been enjoying Naturally Delicious on the Z Living channel with Chef Ann Gentry.  All of her recipes are plant-strong!  I am so excited to switch up my Thanksgiving recipes this year and try these!

Ann Gentry’s Blog

8 Plant-Based, Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipes


Photo by Stephanie Carbone
Holiday Herb Mix
This savory herb mixture is used in the Faux Turkey Breasts and the Corn Sage Stuffing. It is easy to make this ahead and keep using it throughout the holiday season. Makes about 1 1/4 cups

1/2 cup dried rubbed sage
1/4 cup dried marjoram
1/4 cup dried rosemary
1/4 cup dried thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Stir all the ingredients in a small bowl to blend. Transfer the herbs to a glass jar and seal with the lid. The herb mixture will keep up to 1 month, stored airtight at room temperature.

Faux Turkey Breasts
Makes 8

2 (8-ounce) packages soy tempeh
1 (12-ounce) container water-packed firm tofu, drained
1/3 cup yellow miso
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons Holiday Herb Mix
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Quarter the tempeh squares and tofu square into rectangular blocks. Using the food processor fitted with the shredding disc, shred the tempeh and tofu (the mixture will appear crumbled). Stir the miso and mustard in a small bowl to blend. Set the tempeh-tofu mixture and miso-mustard aside.

Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 8 minutes, or until they are translucent. Stir in the herb mix, salt, and black pepper. Then, stir in the shredded tempeh-tofu mixture and miso-mustard mixture. Sauté for 8 minutes, or until the mixture is well blended and golden brown. Set the tempeh mixture aside until cool enough to handle.
Brush the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over a heavy large baking sheet. Using your hands and about 3/4 cup of the tempeh mixture for each, shape the tempeh mixture into eight 4 to 5 inch-long oval patties that are about 3-inches wide and taper at one end to resemble chicken breasts. Arrange the patties on the prepared baking sheet. Brush more oil over the patties. The patties will keep for 2 days, covered and refrigerated.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the patties are golden and heated through.

Corn Sage Stuffing
8 servings

1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup neutral cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
8 celery stalks, finely chopped
4 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
3 tablespoons Holiday Herb Mix
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons tamari
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
12 cups coarsely crumbled Southern-style Skillet Cornbread (see recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 teaspoon of oil. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Stir in the celery, carrots, herb mix, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in the water and tamari. Bring the water to a simmer. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the parsley.
Place the corn bread in a large bowl. Add the vegetable mixture and toss to coat. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish. The stuffing can be made ahead up to this point. Cover the stuffing with foil and refrigerate it until ready to bake and serve.
Bake the covered stuffing for 30 minutes, or until it is heated through. Uncover and continue baking 20 minutes longer, or until the stuffing is crisp on top.

Southern-style Skillet Corn Bread

2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
or 2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 cups plain soymilk
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Sift the cornmeal, white flour, pastry flour, and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk the soymilk, 1/3 cup of oil, maple syrup, and salt in another bowl to blend. Stir the wet ingredients into the cornmeal mixture. Set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to a 12-inch-diameter cast iron skillet and swirl to coat the bottom and sides of the skillet. Heat the skillet over high heat until it begins to smoke. Pour the batter into the hot skillet and spread evenly. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until the corn bread it firm to the touch, golden brown on top, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool slightly.

Savory Gluten-Free Gravy
Makes 4 cups

1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup gluten-free flour (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds (optional)
4 cups water
1/4 cup tamari
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Stir the nutritional yeast and flour in a heavy skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until pale golden and fragrant. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, sage, and thyme, and sauté for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Whisk in the flour mixture and ground flaxseeds. Whisk in the water, tamari, and pepper. Bring the gravy to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking frequently. Continue simmering until the gravy is thick and creamy.

The gravy will keep for 2 days, covered and refrigerated. To rewarm, bring the gravy to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Mashed Yams
Serves 8

8 pounds yams (about 12; red-skinned sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup plain soymilk

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning

Cook the yams in a large pot of boiling water for 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain. Return the potatoes to the pot and mash. Mix in the maple syrup, soymilk, cinnamon, and allspice. Season with salt and pepper.

The yams will keep for 1 day, covered and refrigerated. To rewarm, transfer them to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set the bowl over a large saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Mashed Potatoes and Celeriac
Serves 8

4 small heads celeriac, (about 11 ounces total), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 large russet potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 pounds total), peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
6 tablespoons (vegan) butter
1 1/2 cup (about) non-dairy milk, warmed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, divided
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
Fine-grained sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Boil the celeriac in large saucepan of salted water for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and boil until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes longer. Drain well.

Return the potatoes and celeriac to the saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until dry, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the butter and mash until the vegetables are smooth. Add enough milk to moisten. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the rosemary and all of the chives. Season the mash to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the mash to a serving dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1teaspoon of rosemary and serve immediately.

Cranberry Relish
Serves 8

1 (12-16 oz) package fresh or frozen cranberries
2/3 cup maple syrup
1 small orange juice and zest

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Why Your Gut Is So Important

Fascinating podcast all about your MICROBIOME (gut/intestines) with gastroenterologist Dr. Robynne Chutkan.

Listen during a car ride, while cleaning, or exercising to learn how you can change your ratio of good/bad bacteria and how this affects almost everything in your life, including your food cravings, skin, weight, diseases, emotional state, etc.

Specific topics covered include:

  • what is the microbiome?
  • The regulatory functions of the microbiome
  • the perils of over-sanitization
  • why you should avoid a c-section birth
  • the problem with prophylactic antibiotic prescription
  • the hygiene hypothesis & modern plagues
  • the affluence effect & overmedication
  • the nexus between antibiotics & autoimmune disorders
  • behavior/cravings influenced by the microbiome
  • eating disorder impact on microbial makeup
  • why you should rethink the flu shot
  • rewilding your microbiome
  • the efficacy of probiotics & fermented foods
  • products and environments that disrupt our body’s ecosystems
  • fecal bacteriotherapy


Ultra-athlete & bestselling author Rich Roll talks everything microbiome with gastroenterologist Robynne Chutkan, MD.


Is “Everything In Moderation” Really The Answer?


‘Everything in Moderation’ Diet Advice May Lead to Poor Metabolic Health in US Adults

Released: 30-Oct-2015 2:05 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston


PLOS ONE; R01HL085710

Newswise — HOUSTON – (Oct. 30, 2015) – Diet diversity, as defined by less similarity among the foods people eat, may be linked to lower diet quality and worse metabolic health, according to researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. The study was published today in PLOS ONE.

“‘Eat everything in moderation’ has been a long-standing dietary recommendation, but without much empiric supporting evidence in populations. We wanted to characterize new metrics of diet diversity and evaluate their association with metabolic health,” said Marcia C. de Oliveira Otto, Ph.D., first author and assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health.

Using data from 6,814 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a study of whites, blacks, Hispanic-Americans and Chinese-Americans in the United States, the authors measured diet diversity through different measures. These included the total count (number of different foods eaten in a week), evenness (the distribution of calories across different foods consumed), and dissimilarity (the differences in food attributes relevant to metabolic health, such as fiber, sodium or trans-fat content).

Researchers evaluated how diet diversity was associated with change in waist circumference five years after the beginning of the study and with onset of Type 2 diabetes 10 years later. Waist circumference is an important indicator of central fat and metabolic health.

When evaluating both food count and evenness, no associations were seen with either increase in waist circumference or incidence of diabetes. In other words, more diversity in the diet was not linked to better outcomes. Participants who had the greatest food dissimilarity actually experienced more central weight gain, with a 120 percent greater increase in waist circumference than participants with the lowest food dissimilarity.

To compare with the results seen for diet diversity, the researchers also examined how diet quality relates to metabolic health. Diet quality was measured using established scores such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) score and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) score. At five years, diet quality was not associated with change in waist circumference.

At ten years, higher diet quality was associated with about a 25 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

An unexpected finding was that participants with greater diversity in their diets, as measured by dissimilarity, actually had worse diet quality. They were eating less healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and more unhealthy foods, such as processed meats, desserts and soda,” said Otto. “This may help explain the relationship between greater food dissimilarity and increased waist circumference.”

Dietary diversity as measured by food count and evenness was also associated with higher intakes of both healthy and unhealthy foods.

“Americans with the healthiest diets actually eat a relatively small range of healthy foods,” said Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., senior author and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston. “These results suggest that in modern diets, eating ‘everything in moderation’ is actually worse than eating a smaller number of healthy foods.”

Nikhil S. Padhye, Ph.D., from UTHeath School of Nursing, was a coauthor on the study. Funding came from a research supplement grant awarded to Otto by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, as part of a larger research grant number R01HL085710, whose principal investigator is the senior author Mozaffarian.