Nutrition and Weight Control - The problem of overweight



The percentage of overweight people in this country has been increasing steadily, chiefly because people eat more and use less physical energy than they used to. Americans do very little walking because of the availability of cars; they do very little manual labor because of the increasing use of machines. They may eat good wholesome meals, but they have the time for nibbling at all hours, especially when sitting in front of the television screen.

These patterns usually begin in childhood. Youngsters rarely walk to school any more; they get there by bus or car. They often have extra money for snacks and soft drinks, and frequently parents encourage them to overeat without realizing that such habits do them more harm than good.

Most overweight children remain overweight as adults. They also have greater difficulty losing fat, and if they do lose it, tend to regain it more easily than overweight adults who were thin as children. Many adults become overweight between the ages of 20 and 30. Thus, by age 30, about 12 percent of American men and women are 20 percent or more overweight, and by age 60, about 30 percent of the male population and 50 percent of the female are at least 20 percent overweight. As indicated above, the phenomenon of weight gain while aging does not represent biological normalcy.

Why People Put On Weight

Why does weight gain happen? Excess weight is the result of the imbalance between caloric intake as food and caloric expenditure as energy, either in maintaining the basic metabolic processes necessary to sustain life or in performing physical activity. Calories not spent in either of these ways become converted to fat and accumulate in the body as fat, or adipose tissue.

A calorie is the unit of measurement that describes the amount of energy potentially available in a given food. It is also used to describe the amount of energy the body must use up to perform a given function.

Counting Calories

If an adult gets the average 3,000 calories a day in his food from the age of 20 to 70, he will have consumed about 55 million calories. About 60 percent of these calories will have been used for his basic metabolic processes. The rest—22 million calories—might have resulted in a gain of about 6,000 pounds of fat, since each group of 3,500 extra calories could have produced one pound of fat.

In some ways, it's a miracle that people don't become more obese than they do. The reason, of course, is that most or all of these extra calories are normally used to provide energy for physical activity. Elsewhere in this chapter are some examples of calorie expenditure during various activities.

A reasonably good way for an adult to figure his daily caloric needs for moderate activities is to multiply his desirable weight by 18 for men and 16 for women. If the typical day includes vigorous or strenuous activities, extra calories will, of course, be required.

Parental Influences and Hereditary Factors

Although there are exceptions, almost all obese people consume more calories than they expend. The reasons for this imbalance are complex. One has to do with parental weight. If the weight of both parents is normal, there is only a 10 percent likelihood that the children will be obese. If one parent is obese, there is a 50 percent probability that the children will be too, and if both are, the probability of obese offspring is 80 percent.

Nutrients in Common Foods (continued)

Nutrients in Common Foods ( continued )
Food Food energy Protein Fat Carbohydrate
Calories Grams Grams Grams
Fruit cocktail, canned in heavy syrup, solids and liquid; 1 cup 175 1 trace 47
Grapefruit:
 Raw; ½ medium (4¼-inch diameter, No. 64's) 50 1 trace 14
 Canned in syrup; 1 cup 165 1 trace 44
Grapefruit juice:
 Raw; 1 cup 85 1 trace 23
 Canned:
  Unsweetened; 1 cup 95 1 trace 24
  Sweetened; 1 cup 120 1 trace 32
 Frozen concentrate, unsweetened:
 Undiluted; 1 can (6 fluid ounces) 280 4 1 72
 Diluted, ready-to-serve; 1 cup 95 1 trace 24
Frozen concentrate, sweetened:
 Undiluted; 1 can (6 fluid ounces) 320 3 1 85
 Diluted, ready-to-serve; 1 cup 105 1 trace 28
Grapes, raw; 1 cup:
 American type (slip skin) 70 1 1 16
 European type (adherent skin) 100 1 trace 26
Grape juice, bottled; 1 cup 165 1 1 42
Lemonade concentrate, frozen, sweetened:
 Undiluted; 1 can (6 fluid ounces) 305 1 trace 113
 Diluted, ready-to-serve; 1 cup 75 trace trace 28
Oranges, raw; 1 large orange (3-inch diameter) 70 1 trace 18
Orange juice:
 Raw; 1 cup:
 California (Valencias) 105 2 trace 26
 Florida varieties:
 Early and midseason 90 1 trace 23
 Late season (Valencias) 105 1 trace 26
Canned, unsweetened; 1 cup 110 2 trace 28
Frozen concentrate:
 Undiluted; 1 can (6 fluid ounces) 305 5 trace 80
 Diluted, ready-to-serve; 1 cup 105 2 trace 27
Peaches:
 Raw:
  1 medium (2½-inch diameter), about ¼ pound 35 1 trace 10
  1 cup, sliced 65 1 trace 16
 Canned (yellow-fleshed) in heavy syrup; 1 cup 185 1 trace 49
 Dried: uncooked; 1 cup 420 5 1 109
Pears:
 Raw; 1 pear (3 by 2½-inch diameter). 100 1 1 25
 Canned in heavy syrup; 1 cup 175 1 trace 47
Pineapple juice; canned; 1 cup 120 1 trace 32
Plums:
 Raw; 1 plum (2-inch diameter), about 2 ounces 30 trace trace 7
 Canned (Italian prunes), in syrup; 1 cup 185 1 trace 50
Prunes, dried:
 Uncooked; 4 medium prunes 70 1 trace 19
 Cooked, unsweetened; 1 cup (17-18 prunes and 1/3 cup liquid) 295 3 1 78
Prune juice, canned; 1 cup 170 1 trace 45
Raisins, dried; 1 cup 460 4 trace 124
Raspberries, red:
 Raw; 1 cup 70 1 trace 17

Nutrients in Common Foods (continued)

Nutrients in Common Foods ( continued)
Food Food energy Protein Fat Carbohydrate
Calories Grams Grams Grams
 Frozen; 10-ounce carton 280 2 1 70
Strawberries:
 Raw; 1 cup 55 1 1 12
 Frozen; 10-ounce carton 300 2 1 75
Tangerines; 1 medium (2½-inch diameter), about ¼ pound 40 1 trace 10
Watermelon: 1 wedge (4 by 8 Inches), about 2 pounds (weighed with rind) 120 2 1 29
Grain Products
Biscuits, baking powder, enriched flour; 1 biscuit (2½-inch diameter) 130 3 4 20
Bran flakes (40 percent bran) with added thiamine; 1 ounce 85 3 1 22
Breads:
 Cracked wheat:
  1 pound (20 slices) 1,190 39 10 236
1 slice (½ inch thick) 60 2 1 12
Italian; 1 pound 1,250 41 4 256
Rye:
 American (light):
  1 pound (20 slices) 1,100 41 5 236
  1 slice (½ inch thick) 55 2 trace 12
 Pumpernickel; 1 pound 1,115 41 5 241
White:
 1–2 percent nonfat dry milk:
  1 pound (20 slices) 1,225 39 15 229
  1 slice (½ inch thick) 60 2 1 12
 3–4 percent nonfat dry milk:
  1 pound (20 slices) 1,225 39 15 229
  1 slice (½ inch thick) 60 2 1 12
  5–6 percent nonfat dry milk:
  1 pound (20 slices) 1,245 41 17 228
 1 slice (½ inch thick) 65 2 1 12
Whole wheat, graham, or entire
 wheat:
 1 pound (20 slices) 1,105 48 14 216
 1 slice (½ inch thick) 55 2 1 11
Cakes:
 Angel food: 2-inch sector (1/12 of cake, 8-inch diameter) 160 4 trace 36
 Butter cakes:
  Plain cake and cupcakes without icing:
  1 square (3 by 3 by 2 inches) 315 4 12 48
  1 cupcake (2¾-inch diameter). 120 2 5 18
 Plain cake with icing:
  2-inch sector of iced layer cake (1/16 of cake, 10-inch diameter) 320 5 6 62
 Rich cake:
  2-inch sector layer cake, iced (1/16 of cake, 10-inch diameter) 490 6 19 76
 Fruit cake, dark; 1 piece (2 by 1½ by ¼ inches) 60 1 2 9
 Sponge; 2-inch sector (1/12 of cake, 8-inch diameter). 115 3 2 22
Cookies, plain and assorted; 1 cookie (3-inch diameter) 110 2 3 19
Combread or muffins made with enriched, degermed cornmeal; 1 muffin 2¾-inch diameter) 105 3 2 18
Cornflakes: 1 ounce 110 2 trace 24
Corn grits, degermed, cooked: 1 cup 120 3 trace 27

No one knows for certain why this is so. It is probably a combination of diet habits acquired in youth, conditioning during early years to react to emotional stress by eating, the absence of appropriate exercise patterns, and genetic inheritance.

Some obese people seem to have an impairment in the regulatory mechanism of the area of the central nervous system that governs food intake. Simply put, they do not know when to stop eating. Others, particularly girls, may eat less than their nonobese counterparts, but they are considerably less active. Some researchers think that obese people have an inherent muscle rhythm deficiency. A few people appear to have an abnormality in the metabolic process which results in the accumulation of fat even when the balance between calories taken in and expended is negative and should lead to weight loss.

Obesity and Health

There are many reasons why obesity is a health hazard. The annual death rate for obese people between the ages of 20 and 64 is half again as high as that for people whose weight is close to normal. This statistical difference is due primarily to the increased likelihood that the obese person will suffer from diabetes mellitus and from diseases of the digestive and circulatory systems, especially of the heart.

One possible reason for the increased possibility of heart disease is that there are about two-thirds of a mile of blood vessels in each pound of adipose tissue. Thus 20 or more pounds of excess weight are likely to impose a great additional work load on the heart.

Obese people are also poorer surgical risks than the nonobese, and it is often more difficult to diagnose and therefore to treat their illnesses correctly.

Permanent loss of excess weight makes the formerly obese person come closer to matching the life expectancy of the nonobese. However, losing and regaining weight as a repeated pattern is even more hazardous in terms of health than consistent obesity.

Psychological Consequences of Obesity

In ways that are both obvious and subtle, obesity often has damaging psychological consequences. This is particularly true for obese children, who tend to feel isolated and rejected by their peers. They may consider themselves victims of prejudice and blame their obesity for everything that goes wrong in their lives. In many cases, the destructive relationship between obesity and self-pity keeps perpetuating itself.

Obese adults are likely to experience the same feelings, but to a somewhat lesser degree. For some, obesity is an escape which consciously or unconsciously helps them to avoid situations in which they feel uncomfortable—those that involve active competition or relationships with the opposite sex.

Avoiding Excess Weight

Clearly, obesity is a condition that most people would like to avoid. Not putting on extra pounds does seem to be easier, in theory at least, than taking them off. One possible explanation for this is that additional adipose tissue consists of a proliferation of fat cells. Shrinking these cells is one thing, eliminating them is another. Our present lack of fundamental knowledge about the regulatory and metabolic mechanisms relating to obesity limits the technique of preventing overweight to recommending a balance between caloric intake and expenditure.

Nutrients in Common Foods (continued)

Nutrients in Common Foods ( continued)
Food Food energy Protein Fat Carbohydrate
Calories Grams Grams Grams
Crackers: Graham; 4 small or 2 medium 55 1 1 10
 Saltines; 2 crackers (2-inch square) 35 1 1 6
 Soda, plain: 2 crackers (2½-inch square) 45 1 1 8
Doughnuts, cake type; 1 doughnut 135 2 7 17
Farina, cooked; 1 cup 105 3 trace 22
Macaroni, cooked; 1 cup:
 Cooked 8-10 minutets (undergoes additional cooking as ingredient of a food mixture) 190 6 1 39
 Cooked until tender 155 5 1 32
Noodles (egg noodles), cooked; 1 cup 200 7 2 37
Oat cereal (mixture, mainly oat flour), ready-to-eat; 1 ounce 115 4 2 21
Oatmeal or rolled oats, regular or quick cooking, cooked; 1 cup 150 5 3 26
Pancakes, baked; 1 cake (4-inch diameter):
 Wheat (home recipe) 60 2 2 7
 Buckwheat (with buckwheat pancake mix) 45 2 2 6
Pies; 3½-inch sector (1/8 of 9-inch diameter pie):
 Apple 300 3 13 45
 Cherry 310 3 13 45
 Custard 250 7 13 27
 Lemon meringue 270 4 11 40
 Mince 320 3 14 49
 Pumpkin 240 5 13 28
Pretzels; 5 small sticks 20 trace trace 4
Rice, cooked; 1 cup: Converted 205 4 trace 45
 White 200 4 trace 44
Rice, puffed or flakes; 1 ounce 110 2 trace 25
Rolls:
 Plain, pan (16 ounces per dozen); 1 roll 115 3 2 20
 Hard, round (22 ounces per dozen); 1 roll 160 5 2 31
 Sweet, pan (18 ounces per dozen); 1 roll 135 4 4 21
Spaghetti, cooked until tender; 1 cup 155 5 1 32
Waffles, baked, with enriched flour:
 1 waffle (4½ by 5½ by ½ inches) 215 7 8 28
Wheat, puffed: 1 ounce 100 4 trace 22
Wheat, rolled, cooked; 1 cup 175 5 1 40
Wheat flakes; 1 ounce 100 3 trace 23
Wheat flours:
 Whole wheat; 1 cup, sifted 400 16 2 85
 All purpose or family flour: 1 cup, sifted 400 12 1 84
Wheat germ; 1 cup, stirred 245 17 7 34
Fats, Oils, Related Products
Butter; 1 tablespoon 100 trace 11 trace
Fats, cooking:
 Vegetable fats:
  1 cup 1,770 0 200 0
  1 tablespoon 110 0 12 0
 Lard:
  1 cup 1,985 0 220 0
  1 tablespoon 125 0 14 0
Margarine; 1 tablespoon 100 trace 11 trace
Oils, salad or cooking; 1 tablespoon 125 0 14 0

Nutrients in Common Foods (continued)

Nutrients in Common Foods ( continued)
Food Food energy Protein Fat Carbohydrate
Calories Grams Grams Grams
Adapted from Nutritive Value of American Foods by Catherine F. Adams, Agriculture Handbook No. 456, U.S. Department of Agriculture, issued November 1975. The cup measure used in the following table refers to the standard 8-ounce measuring cup of 8 fluid ounces or one-half liquid pint. When a measure is indicated by ounce, it is understood to be by weight—1/6; of a pound avoirdupois—unless a fluid ounce is indicated. All weights and measures in the table are in U.S. System units.
Salad dressings; 1 tablespoon: Blue cheese 90 1 10 1
 Commercial, plain (mayonnaise type) 60 trace 6 2
 French 60 trace 6 2
 Mayonnaise 110 trace 12 trace
 Thousand Island 75 trace 8 1
Sugars, Sweets
Candy; 1 ounce:
 Caramels 120 1 3 22
 Chocolate, sweetened, milk 145 2 9 16
 Fudge, plain 115 trace 3 23
 Hard 110 0 0 28
 Marshmallow 90 1 0 23
Jams, marmalades, preserves; 1 tablespoon 55 trace trace 14
Jellies; 1 tablespoon 50 0 0 13
Sugar; 1 tablespoon. 50 0 0 12
Syrup, table blends; 1 tablespoon 55 0 0 15
Miscellaneous
Beverages, carbonated, cola types; 1 cup 105 _ _ 28
Bouillon cubes; 1 cube . 2 trace trace 0
Chocolate, unsweetened; 1 ounce 145 2 15 8
Gelatin dessert, plain, ready-to-serve; 1 cup 155 4 0 36
Sherbet, factory packed; i cup (8-fluid-ounce container) 235 3 trace 58
Soups, canned, prepared with equal amount of water; 1 cup: Bean with pork 168 8 6 22
 Beef noodle 140 8 5 14
 Bouillon, broth, and consomme 30 5 0 3
 Chicken consomme 44 7 trace 4
 Clam chowder, Manhattan style 80 2 3 12
 Tomato 90 2 3 16
 Vegetable beef 80 5 2 10
Vinegar; 1 tablespoon 2 0 - 1

The real responsibility for preventing the onset of obesity in childhood rests with parents. It is important for the parents to set a good example and to instill early on all of the fundamentals of good nutrition and healthy eating habits; these are of the utmost importance in this connection. Caloric expenditure in the form of regular exercise is equally important.

Exercising by Habit

This does not necessarily mean that exercise should be encouraged for its own sake. What it does mean is making a habit of choosing an active way of approaching a situation rather than a lazy way: walking upstairs rather than taking the elevator; walking to school rather than riding; walking while playing golf rather than riding in a cart; running to get the ball that has rolled away rather than ambling toward it. These choices should be made consistently and not just occasionally if obesity is to be avoided. Those people who naturally enjoy the more active way of doing things are lucky. Those who don't should make an effort to develop new patterns, especially if obesity is a family problem.

Anyone with the type of physical handicap that makes a normal amount of exercise impossible should be especially careful about caloric intake.



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