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There’s more to weight gain than just eating

illustration by Arunlal Soman

illustration by Arunlal Soman


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America has an obesity problem. This is not surprising. Doctors tell Americans over and over again that they are too sedentary, and that they eat too much. It’s true–Americans have eaten more and exercised less in the past few decades, causing weight gain. But, surprisingly enough, that’s not the end to the story. A study published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that, when exposed to polluted air from Beijing, rats gained a great deal of weight compared to non-exposed rats, despite having the same food. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has similar consequences, according to a Princeton University study. And it just so happens that things like air pollution and HFCS are all around us.

That isn’t to say that you should eat whatever you want and sit around all day. Ultimately, weight loss comes down to calorie intake. But while one may be used to the 2000 for women/2500 for men calorie limit they’re taught in schools, it is not that simple. Certain factors can suppress metabolisms like PCOS, a hormonal disorder in women that often goes unchecked, but causes excessive weight gain. Every person is different, as well—being at the shorter end of the female population, I should only be eating 1500 calories a day to support my current weight. I had been taught in school to overeat. That is where gastric bypass and diet pills come in- they work by making you feel full quicker, thus making you eat less.

The problem is bigger than just relying on people eating less, however. Gastric bypass is not always successful, and one can’t just be on diet pills forever. There is a bigger problem in society that needs to be researched further; how do modern developments like HFCS cause obesity, despite being essentially the same as table sugar? What does pollution do to our bodies?

In order to fight the obesity epidemic, more needs to be done than just blaming the average American. Because, clearly, that isn’t working.

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There’s more to weight gain than just eating