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Why It Was Easier to Be Skinny in the 1980s, or: you can eat the same thing as 40 years ago and be fatter anyway

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I'm so overdue on seeing this study and don't know how I missed it.



A study published recently in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice found that it’s harder for adults today to maintain the same weight as those 20 to 30 years ago did, even at the same levels of food intake and exercise.


The authors examined the dietary data of 36,400 Americans from 1971 to 2008 and the physical-activity data of 14,419 people from 1988 to 2006. They grouped the data sets together by the amount of food and activity, age, and BMI.


They found a very surprising correlation: A given person, in 2006, eating the same amount of calories, taking in the same quantities of macronutrients like protein and fat, and exercising the same amount as a person of the same age did in 1988 would have a BMI that was about 2.3 points higher. In other words, people today are about 10 percent heavier than people were in the 1980s, even if they follow the exact same diet and exercise plans.

“Our study results suggest that if you are 25, you’d have to eat even less and exercise more than those older, to prevent gaining weight,” Jennifer Kuk, a professor of kinesiology and health science at Toronto’s York University, said in a statement. “However, it also indicates there may be other specific changes contributing to the rise in obesity beyond just diet and exercise.”



Second, the use of prescription drugs has risen dramatically since the 1970s and ’80s. Prozac, the first blockbuster SSRI, came out in 1988. Antidepressants are now one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S., and many of them have been linked to weight gain.

Finally, Kuk and the other study authors think that the microbiomes of Americans might have somehow changed between the 1980s and now. It’s well known that some types of gut bacteria make a person more prone to weight gain and obesity. Americans are eating more meat than they were a few decades ago, and many animal products are treated with hormones and antibiotics in order to promote growth. All that meat might be changing gut bacteria in ways that are subtle, at first, but add up over time. Kuk believes that the proliferation of artificial sweeteners could also be playing a role.


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9 minutes ago, Joe said:


Since this seems to be primarily a US problem, I would think the prescription drug reliance is the biggest culprit.

A trick to being lean but being allowed to eat more, other than exercise is increasing your muscle mass. Your bmr is only mass dependent.

I'm also suspicious about these studies as I think it is impossible to know exactly how active people were 30 years ago.

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4 minutes ago, Jason said:


We also have different rules on hormones, antibiotics use, etc. 


Sorry the antibiotic bans are recent, but the EU actually banned hormones in animals in 1981. I somehow doubt this is the reason, however, because Canada did not follow the EU's lead and they do not have our obesity issues.

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8 minutes ago, sblfilms said:

I have a form of diabetes that is likely attributable to gut biome issues


I am convinced that 50 years from now we are going to look back and go "how did people in the late 20th/early 21st century not understand that all autoimmune diseases and some others are caused/controlled by gut biome interaction?" Obviously most complex diseases/conditions are not caused solely by one thing...but there is strong evidence that many (especially auto-immune) are strongly linked to both viral infections and gut flaura.

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