Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cigarette Smoking-- Another Factor in the Obesity Epidemic

Obesity rates in the US have more than doubled in the last 30 years, and rates of childhood obesity and extreme adult obesity have tripled.  One third of US adults are considered obese, and another third overweight.  This is the "obesity epidemic".

The obesity epidemic has coincided with significant changes in the US diet, which are clearly involved.  However, there's another probable contributor that's often overlooked: declining smoking rates.  

Here's a graph I prepared of cigarette consumption over the last century in the US (1):

You can see that cigarette smoking has declined quite a bit since its peak in 1963-- a decrease of 63 percent to be exact.  It didn't start declining in earnest until 1976 however-- just before the obesity epidemic began.

How Does it Work?

The main active ingredient in cigarettes is nicotine.  Nicotine acts by binding to a specific type of receptor on neurons (nerve cells) called the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor.  Acetylcholine is one of the main signaling molecules (neurotransmitters) that neurons use to communicate with one another.  Nicotine suppresses food intake, increases energy expenditure, and lowers body fatness.  Smokers tend to be leaner than non-smokers, even though they usually have a cluster of unhealthy lifestyle habits (2, 3), and they rapidly gain weight when they quit (4, 5).  Administering nicotine to rodents under controlled conditions also reduces food intake and body weight substantially (6).

Since the brain (and particularly the hypothalamus) is the organ in charge of regulating food intake and body fatness, one might guess that nicotine acts there either directly or indirectly.  As predicted, nicotine infused directly into the hypothalamus reduces food intake (7), and a recent high-impact paper demonstrated in mice that nicotine exerts its effects on food intake primarily via POMC cells, a type of neuron in the hypothalamus that is important for the regulation of food intake and body fatness (8). 

Have Declining Smoking Rates Contributed to the Obesity Epidemic?

Public health authorities have been waging a war on cigarette smoking since it was firmly established as a risk factor for a number of serious conditions (e.g., cancer and heart attacks)*.  There's no doubt that regularly smoking cigarettes is bad for your health-- in fact it's probably one of the most unhealthy habits there is.  However, smoking kept us leaner than we should have been in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, likely preventing the gradual changes in the US diet and lifestyle from exerting their full effect on our waistline.  As the appetite suppressive effects of cigarettes went away, and our diets and lifestyles became increasingly commercialized, per capita daily calorie intake increased and the adult obesity rate rose.

Here's a graph I prepared to illustrate the simultaneous changes in cigarette smoking and obesity prevalence in the US (based on CDC and NHANES data).  I find it really striking:

Notice that the plateaus (1960 to late 70s) and the steepest slopes (late 70s to 2006) line up almost perfectly.

* My grandmother quit smoking cold turkey in the late 1970s.  When I asked her why, she said "because I found out it was bad for me".


Ross said...

As interesting as the science is, I can't help but notice that the trend in obesity starts to rise with High Fructose Corn Syrup and Pop consumption as well. So if I want to lose weight, should I just wear a nicotine patch?

Richard A. said...

This doesn't explain why kids have gotten fatter over the past few decades.

LeonRover said...
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LabDaddy said...

It would be more appropriate to compare % smokers to % obese than per cap smoking.

Also, as mentioned, the idea leaves a big gap when it comes to childhood obesity.

LeonRover said...

Hey Ross

Some people do start wearing a nicotine patch.

It is a trickle dose and not a sequence of hits - no nicotine spikes.

The 25mg patch divided in half, provides a dose equivalent to that of about 11 cigarettes a day - the average consumption per head in 1960 - and costing about $2 a day.

You may be aware that researchers are trying to develop nicotine mimetics for prescription to Parkinson sufferers, No doubt they will be sold at a hefty surcharge over that of the nicotine patch.

Go figure.

Carl M. said...

@LabDaddy: remember second hand smoking causes second hand coolness. Fat kids just aren't as cool ;-þ

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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David L said...


What is the source of the bad health effects? It seems like nicotine itself does not cause cancer ( and the same article does not mention any other toxic effects.

Is it the means of ingestion or the other ingredients in the cigarettes that cause these toxic effects? Maybe we could all safely lose weight if we wore nicotine patches.

Kris said...

I know a lot of people who gained a substantial amount of weight after they quit smoking. Seeing the graph like that, however, is a big surprise to me.

I like the new color scheme btw, a white background is easier on the eyes in my opinion.

Gabriella Kadar said...

One of the snackfood commercials (this was some years ago, I don't know what goes on now but would hazard a guess things haven't changed)encouraged mothers to get the kids to be less demanding of their attention by giving them an oat based snack bar.

The obesity epidemic probably has a lot of psycho-social roots. Overeating can be seen as a self-soothing behaviour in a society where individuals are disconnected in a meaningful way to a sense of community. The distractions and isolation created by the greatest of birth control tools, the television and now the internet, physically distance human beings from one another. Over-eating due to boredom, anxiety, frustration etc. is probably a big factor. High reward foods, when discovered by the individual, compound the problem and wreak both metabolic and hormonal havoc. People don't tend to snack on lettuce or kale after all.

I think Stephen could probably provide a graph correlating the obesity epidemic with the number of television channels available to viewers, the introduction of Nintendo, Playstation, and the other tech toys that keep people entertained in their aloneness.

Besides which, the determination of diabetic blood sugar levels have changed and patients are considered to be diabetic at lower blood sugar levels than in the past. So we need to factor that in as well.

It's the same with high blood pressure. 140/80 is no longer acceptable although a few years ago this was not considered to be blood pressure requiring pharmaceutical therapy.

Stephen's basic message to cook ones own food from fresh ingredients and refrain from consuming sugars is most likely the best preventive for obesity. We should not be relying on the pseudo-foods manufactured by corporate 'food conglomerates' to provide us with their interpretation of nutrition.

Gabriella Kadar said...
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LeonRover said...

Hey Stephan

Interesting post.

And it raises a thought or two concerning Kitavans and other communities in PNG.

While the Kitavans may be disposed to remain slimmer thro' the effects of nicotine, they do not seem disposed to the ill effects of other constituents of tobacco smoke.

I speculate that some other aspect of Western environment is a factor in the risks to lungs and other tissues, which is not present in Kitava.

Have your studies and investigations provided you with any ideas?

Galina L. said...

Recently I came across a post by a blogger who reported on his experience trying to use nicotine patches for a weight loss. As a result he developed an addiction without loosing weight and spending thousands of $$ in a process. I hope readers of SG's blog will not try to repeat his experiment.
Many ethnic groups use some stimulants that allow them to perform despite unfavorable conditions. Famous Kitovans smoke. Probably, nicotine is not the most effective substance to curb overeating. What about coca leaves or cola nuts? Don't worry about my mental state, I am not proposing to keep population on coca leaves instead of coca-cola, I am just guessing that it may be healthier.

Catt said...

I quit smoking at 22, after 7 years of chain smoking. It took about a month of nonsmoking for me to not be able to button my pants. I was a size 4? 2? before that? Anyway, slim; I didn't even have regard for the number on the scale when I quit. But, once I was no longer a smoker, it was noticeable how often and with such strength that food crossed my mind. Suddenly it was muffins on campus and then pork buns and chow mein after class or maybe a super burrito -- sushi plus a sandwich at work. Just so much food all of a sudden.

But as a smoker, before that, I would consume just cigarettes and coffee all day, and would eat, finally, only during my evening shift at the office -- it was one giant meal (cheap pizza or Mexican or In N Out Burger or a super rich entree salad) but I was skinny with even that habits.

Anyway, the 10-15 fat pounds are on me no longer, but it took quite a bit of adjustment to level out to a size 4 again (and despite a sudden turn to endurance running the week I quit) -- my composition is better now, actually, thanks to fitness and primal-ish lifestyle. Cigarettes are powerful appetite suppressers and definitely do a number on your brain! You don't need to tell me twice -- this experience for me does have me understanding what is meant by the size of the fat organ originating with the brain.

...So the story ends that I would never go back to that slavery of cigarette addiction, again, ever... And you don't need to if you are active, mostly eat non-crap, and do some IF. That's the good news!

Catt said...

Galina --

You know, I did some backpacking through the Dogon Country in Mali -- and munched on Kola nuts like the locals. It has a stimulant effect.

Dogons are skinny -- but they are also a rural population sans Seven Eleven -- but a kola nut could certainly quell some hunger in a pinch. Its sometimes how I use coffee.

mem said...

Yay! Great post, Stephan. We have a conlfuence of factors which and are driving obesity. I believe that the very large drop in cigarette smoking has been a very significant factor.

In addition to the factors you have stated, I also think the actual metabolism stimulation of nicotine is important and also the work that has been done in the last 10 years or so looking at the numbers of die-hard smokers who suffer from depression.

"Contrary to "common knowledge," nonsmokers do not generally eat more than smokers, nor do they exercise less, studies find."

"Now a study in the April 6 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE shows that nicotine's effect on body-fuel consumption do indeed increase proportionally with increases in activity. "These results indicate that the metabolic effect of nicotine may play a greater part in accounting for body-weight differences between smokers and nonsmokers than was previously believed," say Kenneth A. Perkins and his colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine."

"By analyzing air exhaled, the researchers calculated energy expenditures in the armchair bicylists before and after administering the nasal spray and compared the relative changes with those in controls given placebo nasal sprays. Relative to their baseline bicycle expenditures, individuals in the nicotine group expended considerably more energy than did controls while doing the same amount of work. With nicotine, Perkins says, "it's as if the body is becoming much less efficient in using its stored calories."

Nicotine has also been cited in research as changing gene expression.

"Nicotine is known to affect the expression of several genes. Among these is the gene coding for tyrosine hydroxylase, which is involved in a rate-limiting step in catecholamine synthesis (5, 6), as well as genes involved in the regulation of food intake and energy expenditure, such as neuropeptide Y, orexins, and their receptors (7, 8)"

And interesting question would then be, if we know that nicotine affects gene expression in genes involving the regulation of food intake and expenditure, does this mean, or possible mean, that this gene expression change would be passed to offspring?

Thanks for offering yet another important piece of a complex puzzle of confluent factors.

mem said...

Oops! It's late. Sorry for the funky typos in my previous response!

Dylan said...

It doesn't necessarily explain why kids have gotten fatter, but explaining an epidemiological problem to people that are skeptical of epidemiological studies is a tall order. This is simply another factor, not THE factor. But if you want to approach it from the potential of the effect of smoking, who's not to say that children end up being fat when their mothers quit smoking during pregnancy?

Very interesting post and, personally, I think it adds a strong dimension to the idea of food reward. Whenever I cut out high reward foods it certainly feels like withdrawal for a while.

Rowsella said...

Re kids getting fatter--

Both my parents smoked and all my extended adult family smoked when I was growing up. All my brothers and sisters (I had one of each in addition to step-siblings) were thin as well as myself.

My sister is the only one who gained weight rapidly after 18-- after a pregnancy. She had previously been a very small size and her diet consisted of junk food, canned ravioli and soda but she was pretty active, walked quite a bit which stopped after having a baby. To this day she has a great difficulty in losing any weight.

I was never a very small size-- I fit in mediums, wore a size 8 back in the 80's. I quit smoking in January of 1992 and soon after became pregnant. I piled on the pounds during the pregnancy, I seemed to be constantly thinking about food. After I had my son in 1992, I seemed to have changed my setpoint and found it very difficult to lose weight after that. Previously, all I needed to do was watch my diet, cut down on calories and increase activity and I would lose weight very easily. Now in my late forties I have trouble in resisting sweets, continuing to gain. I realize I eat in response to stress and anxiety. I work as a nurse on a cardiac floor thus am stressed out every workday (but active, hardly sit at work).

My mother was extremely thin, mostly d/t early years in postwar Germany. She was thin for most of her life but only in the last 10 years has gained weight. She is a heavy smoker and had health problems because of it. She also eats mainly bread/cheese and soda besides the healthy dinners we provide. She is living with me now so I am once again exposed to secondhand smoke (which unfortunately is not acting as an appetite suppressant-- if I have to be exposed, I thought at least I could have one benefit lol). I can't ask her to smoke outside d/t cold temps and her lowered immune resistance. The pulmonologist says she has only a couple years left; I don't want her last years filled with arguments. She has to decide to quit for herself, but she is very stubborn and will not listen to reason or doctors. What can I say, she is an addict.

gunther gatherer said...

Hi Stephan,

I thought we established that highly stimulating substances such as nicotine, video games, overly fatty-salty-sweet foods, pornography, caffeine, etc. were detrimental to dopamine pathways, causing metabolic problems which lead to depression and obesity, among other disorders.

Maybe smoking only keeps weight down for a number of years. I'm thinking of how it works with alcoholics or drug addicts: sooner or later the brain gets used to the nicotine and you eat just as much or more than before.

These substances have a way of not showing detrimental effects for awhile and then one day you wake up really old and sick.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Stephan

Very clever observation and nice article. :)

The obesity data is presented shady by special interests. Since 1990 , we are only 7 pounds heavier. The thin are exactly the same as back then , the only difference being seen among the morbvidly obese ( the morbidly obese are 7 to 10 pounds heavier now than in 1990)

This does not seem as alarming when the data is presented honestly e.g. average weight increase in the last 20 to 30 years is only 7 to 10 pounds more.

There are many Internet commentators who claim that " the genes could not have changed in 30 years".

That view would be completely incorrect. The way natural selection actually works is that it operates MOST powerfully over the SHORT TERM. Natural selection can be observed in a SINGLE GENERATION, as nature weeds out the maladapted under changing environmental conditions, leaving the more highly adapted individuals to proliferate.

THUS, rapid changes in population characteristics are generally the result of gene/environmental interaction.

The genes absoutley CAN change in a single generation, as several top geneticists have noted.

It is worth notng that HEIGHT has ALSO increased singnificantly in Western nations in the 20th century.

There are HUGE problems with measuring a CONTINUOUS trait such as body weight with a fixed threshold such as the BMI's use of 30. Over it you are. Under it you're not.

There is a KNOWN phenomenon in epidemiology when you have a fixed threshold for a (continuous) trait, a small shift in the average value has a DISPROPORTIONATE EFFECT on the number of poeple who exceed that thtreshold.

The increasing incidence of obesity in the population is not relfected by a proportionate increase in weight.. The drivbe to eat is to a very large extent genetically hardwired, and differences in weight are genetically determined. Obesity can be a good thing depending on the environment in which one or one's ancestors finds themselves.

The change in weight attributable to any recent changes in diet or more sedentary lifestyle is much smaller than the enormous differences in weight ( often numbering in the hundreds of pounds) that can be observed among INDIVIDUALS living in today's world.

The increase in weight is not even distributed in the population.

In modern times some individuals have manifested amuch greater increase of BMI than others, strongly suggesting the possibility that in our population ( species) there is a subgroup that is genetically susceptible to obesity AND a different group that is relatively resistant.

In a relatively uniform environment where virtually everybody has free access to calories, why is it we all differ in body weight by hundreds of pounds?

And the answer to that question is very largely GENETICS.

These scientifically solid points get me banned from most forums who have a vested interest in promoting either low carb or vegan or what have you for the "solution" to obesity.

They ALL are asking what cheese the moon is made of. I do my BEST to ACCURATETLY represent the genuine science , not Internet guru hearsay.
Take care,

LabDaddy said...

A 2005 paper by Gruber/Frakes concludes "...we cannot confirm that falling smoking leads in a major way to rising obesity rates in the U.S." In fact, their research indicated that, "[s]urprisingly, we find that there is a negative relationship between cigarette taxes and
BMI; higher taxes lead to a lower BMI. This finding implies that the reduced smoking due to
higher taxes lowers, rather than raises, weight, although the estimated effects are fairly small."

A 2011 study by Baum/Chou indicate "the decline in cigarette smoking explains about 2% of the increase in the weight measures."

Galina L. said...

It looks like coffee consumption doesn't work as an appetite suppressant for the American population. Probably, too much sugar and cream got together with it. I am aware of the effect myself. I practice one time a week 22 - 24 fast since the beginning of 2011, and despite being adopted to fasting, from time to time I could be hungrier than I want to be in the morning, than I drink a coffee with couple slices of lemon, and it removes the desire to eat. Sometimes I even have a small container with sliced lemons during my fasting day just in case, but most of the time morning coffee does the trick.

Galina L. said...

The Wooo in her blog The Scribble pad posted about nicotine and a weight loss.

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Unknown said...

Interesting read, Stephan, but I don't think the decline of smoking explains the extremely heavy people so common today. I'm turning 65 tomorrow, so in my childhood most adults were lean smokers. As many of them quit, many did gain pounds but usually 20 or fewer as opposed to the frequently 50-100-or more seen today. I may not be a good n=1 because while both parents smoked a little neither ever became addicted. I was a fat baby, a slender active child and then progressively heavier from teens on. I never smoked or drank to any significant extent and yet I got just as fat as everyone else. I have steadily lost fat (now about 40 lbs) in 9 months without heroics and I'm still losing. For me, it's definitely the USDA pyramid that doesn't work.

Unknown said...

Okay, I definitely should have made it clear my 40 lbs lost was achieved via moderate-carb ancestral eating aka no-wheat-ever.

mem said...

""There is already evidence that epigenetic transgenerational inheritance can also occur in humans in response to food supply and smoking. Nevertheless, until the epigenetically changeable targets in humans are defined, it will not be possible to determine if such associations are directly mediated by epigenetic changes..."


Slowly, oh soooo slowly, me move toward the complexity of the whole picture.

microkat said...

Nice website overhaul! like the new look! super clean : )

Dan said...


Here is a link I posted that shows that fat deposition in birds is controlled by the brain, and in response to unpredictability of food supply. Thought you might find it interesting.

(Feel free to delete this just wanted to share the link with you).

Dan said...

Now back to topic that graph is truly staggering. From my own perspective I have always been most successful at losing weight when I smoked and so can attest to the fact that hunger levels drop immensely. I think this could be a highly unlooked at area.

Given that you are interested in reward centres in the brain it may not be surprising that we turned from one addiction (smoking) to another (processed foods) in order to 'reward' ourselves.

Brent said...
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Angelina said...

well explained!! Smoking is only be the reason behind obesity, not completely. Kids are became fat not because of smoking but by heredity or by food habits.
Wearing a nicotine patch is not to lose weight!!!!

Mario Vachon said...

To Razwell.

I beg to differ. I was obese because I made poor food choices, not because I was genetically "wired" to be a certain way. I weighed 270 pounds in 2000 eating a SAD. Basically since then my rule has been I only eat real food (meat, eggs, dairy (hard cheese primarily), vegetables, fruit, some nuts...) and over a over a year and change lost 100 lbs and have never been over 185 since (currently 177), so almost 12 years now. Throwing up your hands and blaming genetics is ridiculous in my opinion.

I don't need tables to tell me that there is an obesity epidemic. I have eyes. I also know that the vast majority of people who consume primarily "real" food tend to be of normal weight.

LeonRover said...

"I also know that the vast majority of people who consume primarily "real" food tend to be of normal weight. "


Galina L. said...

So what if it didn't keep me lean, why I should care about the majority if I am not a federal government? Real food is better, but is not enough for many. People just can't believe that somebody may need more effort than eating more blueberies and walk around the blok in order to be in a decent shape. I am from the country where 15 - 20 years ago fast-food was not available, but almost every middle-aged women was overweight and every old person skinny-fat or fat, not to mention some proportion of men caring bellies and love-handles around. With the real food you will get no fat children and young people, no morbidly obese, but some part of population will have to deal with unwanted lb somehow. In mine case it is limiting carbs, eliminating snacks, IF.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Mario, you are ignorant of the science. There is nothing to "beg to differ about".

Your own anecdotes are not science. IF what you say is true than you are in the 1 % or less of the population.

Detailed study from genuis scientists in this field ( the very best) have soundly determined the points I made. There are vast unknowns BUT they know that much at least.

Your statement that people who eat real food are usually of nornal weight is completely unscientific and an uneducated assumption.

Adoption studies, monozygotic twin studies - read them. Obesity is extremely GENETIC- more so than ANY other medical condition studied with the POSSIBLE exception of HEIGHT alone. This IS soundly established by peer reviwed mainstream reputable science. There is nothing to debate.

There remains vast unknowns but we know this much at least.

Educate yourself ( from REPUTABLE SOURCES- not "Mark Sisson" and other Internet gurus) and drop your assumptions. I will leave it at that.

I KNOW my stuff and I am on extremely firm scientific ground. If you bother to do PROPER research this beyond nopnsense paleo sites you will see I am RIGHT. ( or rather the world renowned SCIENTISTS are right)

Anonymous said...

There are PLENTY of obese and /or considerably over weight people who eat healthfully and are deicated exercisers who REMAIN obese. Which is no surprise.

Science has demonstrated that neither dieting nor exercising have that much impact LONG TERM on obesity.

I see many dedicated over weight women walking every day in my own neighborhood

Obesity is FAR more complicated that "poor choices"........

I am sure somebody out there has made poor choices and gained weight.

It is a very unscientific ASSUMPTION ( based on belief systems and poor understandings of obesity) to look at an obese person and decide he or she made a poor choice. Medications, GENETICS, disease states, gut flora, and many other things could be the cause.

True morbid obesity is a CHRONIC DISEASE STATE for which NO CURE currently exists, and the treatments are very poor in general.

Even bariatric sugery - nearly all remain clincially obese- although less.

Deirdre said...

You're nearly there. There is a definite correlation between Big Tobacco and the spike in obesity rates since the early to mid '80s, but it has less to do with nicotine, per se, and more to do with marketing.

By looking at your intersecting graph, it's clear that obesity rates spiked between the early to mid 1980s, and continued to soar throughout the 1990s. And when we look to the food industry for clues as to why this is, most overlook a significant event: the acquisition of General Foods and Krafts foods by Philip Morris in the mid 1980s. And by deploying the same deceptive marketing strategies once used to successfully sell tobacco, they unleashed on food.

There's no other category of food that demonstrates how insidious yet intentional these marketing strategies are on consumer behavior than with snack foods. When Philip Morris bought General Foods and Kraft back in the mid 1980s, the global snack food market was estimated to be at approximately $10 Billion. Today, it's on course to reaching $350 Billion by 2015.

When we look at the rise of childhood obesity and the rise of the snack food industry, they follow nearly identical trajectories. And the same insidious messages and societal cues that once convinced consumers that smoking cigarettes was desirable is now being used with snacking, and effective to the point of changing societal norms: Back in the 1970s, children snacked on average once daily. Today, kids are snacking continuously - up to 6 times a day - and on foods that are hyper palatable, calorically dense and nutritionally vacant.

So, yes - there is a definite link between Big Tobacco and Big Food as in they are one in the same.

Anonymous said...

Obesity IS a problem BUT the honest data is this:

The average weight gain in the United States of America since 1990 IS ONLY - ONLY 7 POUNDS MORE. ( 10 pounds at the VERY most)

THAT is what you are NOT told. BUT it is valid scientific data from a very top source- DR. KATHERINE FLEGAL.

When the data is presented honestly and accurately, it is not nearly as startling.

But yes, it IS a public health problem. 7 to 10 pounds MATTERS.

VERY, very modest weight loss ( which is realistic to stay at lower end of set point about 10 pounds less) DRAMATICALLY improves health.

We are ONLY 7 pounds to 10 pounds heavier today than 30 years back.

REMEMBER that the next time there is political obesity diatribe scare mongering. Keep it is PERSPECTIVE- 7 to 10 pounds.

The cold hard FACTS presented to you by Razwell.

Galina L. said...

May I suggest you will include in your research some visual materials like old photographs, or films with images of crowd during different periods? Even from looking at images, it is clear people on average gained much more than 7 - 10 lb. When I go back and forth from USA to Russia, it is a staggering difference, even though there are more fat people in Russia than even 15 years ago. Recently during a party a gentleman told me his wife gave him as a present CDs with the "Wheel of Fortune" shows for 20 last years if I am not mistaken. He was shocked to noticed how the level of fatness changed. It is obvious for everybody who cares to look.

Anonymous said...

THIN people are EXACTLY the same as they were then . The differences are seen among th eoebse.

Obesity has ALWAYS been around. Plenty of over weight women in poor areas of Africa and other places. Overwight GASP "primitive people" too in the Amazon and other remote areas. THey all have DIFFERENT builds.

As TAUBES rightly points out obesity exosted among people semi starving and doing manual labor. fairly significant obesity.

People come in ALL shapes and sizes. GENETICS.

You either accept what TOP geneticists have found or you don't. But I represent the science accurately. Mark Sisson does NOT.

Obesity existed among Hippocrates time. Obesity existed 23,000 B.C.

Anonymous said...

Recent studies in KOSRAE have also concluded obesity is extremely GENETIC and EXTREMELY HERITABLE- only height possible surpasses it and by a SMIDGEN

It is also intersting to note HEIGHT siginifcantly increased in the 20th century.

You either accept what REPUTABLE sound science has found or you don't

There was a time I too was fooled by Internet forum hearsay.

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Deirdre,

I agree that aggressive marketing of energy dense, highly rewarding/palatable foods is a driver of the obesity epidemic. I made that same point in my recent review paper.

Subrata said...

Interesting but probably it may have only a minor contribution towards obesity. Main reason is less exercise combined with high calorie diet, I think.
Subrata at Health-ideaas

Asim said...

Congratulations on you being mentioned in "Men's Health"...

Asim said...

People confuse activity with exercise... Real activity is a kep indicator of proper health while exercise is not.. Sitting contnuosly for long periods of time can induce obesity...

Humans have what Dr. Levine calls non-exercise activity thermogensis...

With the introduction of the internet, cable and PC computing, and combined together, you have a very strong correlation with the rise in obesity, especially among young people and children...

the playgrounds are empty these days...

Asim said...

The above article shows a correlation between sitting and larger bottoms. It seems pressure on the butt can induce fat cells to develop into fatty tissue.

This also supports the notion of selective targetting of fat can happen...

LeonRover said...

What happens when the pressure is of such short duration as be impulsive ?

Anonymous said...

Mr Stephan Guyenet- I own a Crossfit gym on the eastside of Seattle and was wondering if you would be interested in providing a lecture to some of our clients? I know this is a funny place to make such a request but I didn't see any of your contact info on your blog. I can be contacted at if you are interested. Thank you for your time.

Anonymous said...

I certainly am a supporter of NEAT, far more than formal exercise- which has a dismal record int he scientific literature for weight loss. If anything might have a chance to go "under the radar" it *might* ( but I am not sure) be NEAT.

However, as Dr. Douglas Coleman has pointed out, it is mainly genetically determined. Certain people are extremely prone to fidget constantly.

I am one of them. I naturally keep the beat to songs by air drumming and playing my guitar in a rythmic style (similar to Slash) for as long as I can.

Certain other people it won't work for because they are so prone not to move. It's their genetics to sit very still and not do much NEAT.

When it is natural you do it most days , for long periods of time and very lon gterm - many man yeras.

If you are not prone to NEAT , consciously trying will most likely fall short over the very long term

Mottdog said...

The Japanese and the French are the biggest smokers and there thin overall. America one of the lowest so this doesn't make sense.

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gloxinian said...

I recently read an article in which French women were interviewed with respect to the "French Paradox," essentially, which was that the French are so thin when everyone else in the developed world seemingly isn't.

I read quote after quote of French women saying "I don't eat dessert; I have a cigarette." "All the French women I know skip meals and have cigarettes." "Why eat when a cigarette works just as well." That really hit home. Not that I'm going to take up smoking. Maybe some overdosing on caffeine would work. ;)

Unknown said...

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Anonymous said...

My husband and I were heavy smokers and obese. We stopped smoking cold turkey with small changes to our diet and exercise. We're not sure how much of an affect the smoking had but our health has definitely improved. We are half way from saving enough to buy a treadmill with the money we could've spent buying cigarettes. says pretty much any treadmill would fit us with more concentration on livestrong. Has anyone experienced this brand?

Unknown said...

As interesting as the science is, I can't help but notice that the trend in obesity starts to rise with High Fructose Corn Syrup and Pop consumption as well. So if I want to lose weight, should I just wear a nicotine patch?