Thursday, May 24, 2012


When the subject of obesity is talked about, there is always this tendency to advice the victims of such physiological disorders to cut down drastically on food intake, least realizing that there is no quick fix solution to overcome the epidemic. It is true that balancing the calories consumed with that expended is a key to "prevent" development of obesity but cutting down on calories by people already obese has minimal effect forcing the unfortunate victims to seek medical intervention. Many slimming diets propounded by commercial special food industry also do not help in controlling weight in all people, their impact being not uniform among the patients trying to bring down body weight through this route. It is for nothing that obesity "industry" is growing fast attracting victims who do not get solace through conventional diet therapy.  

Mathematics is a precise science and it is the basis of all designs man comes up with during the last few decades. There are many mathematical models evolved by scientists to test hypotheses and concepts and with the computing power of to day's man becoming mind boggling, there is nothing which cannot be predicted based on mathematics. Practically the whole space program was developed on computer calculations and modeling studies. It is against this background attempts are being made to use mathematical modeling studies to understand and predict obesity trends among human beings based on food intake and other data available already in the literature. Probably better and more intensive use of mathematics may reduce drastically the time needed to understand and project future possibilities.

A standard answer to any question related to calorie intake and weight reduction will always be that it takes about 3500 kC calorie reduction to lose. But it appears this is no longer the holy grail if some mathematicians have their say. They aver that the behavior of the human body is not the same under over caloric and under caloric conditions. Proof of this contention is that a person already overweight puts on more weight for every 10 calories additional intake compared to a normal healthy person consuming the same number of calories. In other words the effect of calorie intake is not manifested immediately and there is a certain time factor to see its weight gaining effect. If these findings are true the dietary science may have to be revised to keep in tune with the new predictions by the mathematics experts.

One of the surprising findings is that weight gain and reduction cannot be achieved in short time and it may take 1-3 years to reach equilibrium by the human body. In other words there is no quick fix for weight reduction as is being propagated by the merchants and peddlers of weight reduction diets world over. How difficult it is to lose weight can be gauged by the fact, as brought out recently, that it takes about three years for a dieter under any dietary regime to reach a steady state and there should not be any disappointment if results take longer to arrive than expected! The mathematical model arrived at by the new studies predicts that if one wants to reduce 10 pounds, it is necessary to cut down 100 kC a day for 3 years. Most welcome finding that will give solace to many weight watchers is that huge variations in daily intake of foods will not be a problem as long as the average intake is maintained to achieve the desired goal of reduced weight. 

One of the reasons as to why in the US one out of every three persons is obese can be seen against the above background. Since 1970s the food cost in that country has been coming down significantly while the per capita income has been increasing, putting more money in the hands of people. American food industry started its "seduction" program to tap the increased money in the hands of the population by creating foods that stimulate the palate rather than improving their well being! If the obesity in the US has assumed alarming proportion during the last one decade, it has to be understood in the context of the growth of the food industry there churning out foods with empty nutrition and abundance of calories. If the mathematical modeling is taken into consideration once the equilibrium level of the body is reached in 3 years resulting in increase of 10 pounds in the body weight, every additional calorie is bound to escalate the weight accrual relentlessly resulting in obesity in no time. As against 2000-2500 kC intake by healthy persons in developing countries, the corresponding figure is in the vicinity of 3500 kc! Under such a condition one cannot help saying "Obesity, thy name is America"!

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