Courtesy size8jeansEager to help the environment? Want to reduce fuel consumption? Well, according to a new study published in the journal Human Ecology, you can do your part by not stuffing so many calories into your face.
On average we Americans just eat too much. We consume about 1200-1500 more calories per day than is recommended. Not only that but most of the 3700 calories we do take in each day comes from junk and processed foods, and animal products, which use up a lot more fuel and resources to produce than simpler foods like potatoes, fruits and vegetables.
Conventional meat and dairy farming require large amounts of energy what with processing, packaging and long-distant distribution, so the study suggests a return to more organic, localized farming methods to help reduce energy usage. Of course, this means the end users – us – will have to reduce our intake of animal fat and processed foods, and shift to simpler, healthier diets, but the impact on fuel consumption would be tremendous.
But wait, there’s more.
The current health trend in the United State is in a rather dismal state. Many of us are overweight , diabetes is on the rise, and now we’ve got doctors recommending cholesterol-lowering drugs for children . A radical shift in our food production methods, and a reduction in our caloric intake such as the study suggests would not only solve some of our current energy woes, but the general health of the US population would benefit, too.
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Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College in Great Britain discovered that pregnant rats that overindulge candy bars, potato chips and other junk food seem to pass those cravings on to their innocent and unsuspecting offspring.
So far, the study only involved rats, but I’m certain my mother is the reason I really crave Lorna Doones® and chocolate donuts.
The female rats in the study were fed either a bland yet nutritious sort of rat chow, or given access to as much tasty junk food as they wanted. The diets were continued in some rats up to birth, and through the breastfeeding period.
When the offspring were divided up, some of the group from the rat chow-only mothers was offered just rat chow to eat; the remainder of that group was mixed in with the offspring from junk food-fed mothers and given the choice of boring rat chow or delicious junk food.
The rat chow-only offspring ate the least amount of food, but for the offspring given a choice evidently too much junk food isn’t enough, especially the babies whose mothers had been fed only junk food. Their offspring preferred the empty-calorie treats and consumed twice as much food as the offspring of chow-only group.
The reason for this, the scientists think, is that the “pleasure chemicals” unleashed by the rat mother when eating high-fat foods may have some sort of effect on the brain of the fetus.
It should be reiterated that the study only has to do with rats. No such study has been done on humans, but I’ll tell, I’d probably be a good study subject. My mom still loves to ingest lots of sweets and I’m not far behind her.
University of Texas researchers have determined that having a pot belly –even a fairly small one- increases your risk of heart disease.
"Fat that accumulates around your waist seems to be more biologically active as it secretes inflammatory proteins that contribute to atherosclerotic plaque build-up, whereas fat around your hips doesn't appear to increase risk for cardiovascular disease at all,” according to Professor James de Lemos, the research lead. “Even a small pot belly puts us at higher risk when compared to a flat tummy."
I guess that means I either have to cut down on my junk food intake or ratchet up my exercise regimen.
"What's important is that people consider their body shape as well as their weight,” said June Davison, a cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation. “Controlling both by eating less and being more active is an effective way to reduce your risk of heart and circulatory disease”
Well, I suppose, but even exercise has some controversy attached to it.
Last week a study stated that even light exercise was beneficial.
But then this week a new study proclaims that workouts must be “tough” to be of any benefit.
Oh, the heck with it. I'm going back to the couch with a bag of donuts on my pot belly and wait for some more agreeable studies to come out.