Facts are facts…the world we live in today is a world that could really do with going on a diet! Think this is a sweeping statement, think again, the World Health Organisation (WHO) state that 26% (just over a quarter) of adults in the UK are obese, not to mention overweight! Consider this too, 2.9 million people worldwide die each year as a result of being overweight or obese, and yet still we do little to combat it. On an individual basis we don’t do a bad job, many of us attend gyms and perform regular physical activity whilst many overweight people are trying there best to lose the weight they’ve accrued over the years. Weight loss is a complex process, but the rules are relatively straightforward…consume less calories than you burn and you’re onto a winner!
Reducing the population’s rise in obesity was never going to be easy, and it’s no surprise considering the large portions of high fat, highly palatable foods such as sweet and fat dense ready made meals/snacks that are available to us for next to no money. Somehow manufacturers and marketers manage to find ways to encourage people to buy their products, in turn sending them to an early grave! Despite the environment we live in, we are the masters of the way we live, we control what we eat…fact is, we just choose not to. Research shows that large portions of energy dense foods promote overconsumption of food whilst smaller more appropriate portions actually help us to eat less. Basically, human beings will eat whatever is put in front of them, after all we were raised not to waste food right?
Ways to reduce our intake
It’s not complicated, but it takes a lot of discipline and desire to get it right. As mentioned above, the general public can reduce their total intake by making their portions smaller, the mental processes that are involved when seeing an empty plate go a long way to convincing you to stop eating. A smaller plate physically reduces the portion size of your meal, so it’s definitely worth considering the next time you prep your meal. However, there are several other relatively simple ways of reducing your calorie intake, this includes reducing the energy density of a meal. By reducing the calorific content of the meal you can consume the same amount of food whilst reducing the total amount of calories. Adjust the nutritional composition of your food, so aim to increase the amount of protein and fibre you consume at each meal. In doing so you in turn reduce total carbs and fat (but definitely not excluding them completely). A protein dense meal also goes some way to increasing satiety, meaning you feel fuller for longer minimising snacking etc.
Although you’ve probably heard of ‘portion size reduction’ and its role in weight loss, the fact is that people are still failing to do it, and less still know that it’s completely backed by science! Researchers have long understood that portion size control and minimising ‘portion distortion’ can significantly reduce the amount of total calories you consume. Portion control has the potential to help people achieve sustainable improvements in their energy intake and bodyweight. However, scientists (yes, actual science bods) all assert that we are in need of science based strategies in order to increase the availability of affordable nutrient rich, low energy foods…and quickly (Drewnowski and Rolls, 2012).
Drewnowski, A & Rolls, B, J. (2012). Obesity treatment and interventions : New directions. Nestle Nutrition Institute. Basel : Karger.
World Health Organisation, (2014). Obesity. Retrieved, 31st March, 2014, from http://www.who.int/topics/obesity/en/