Press "Enter" to skip to content

Opinion What if the focus on calories and energy balance is simply wrong?

David Ludwig: The usual way of understanding obesity is simple: If you consume more calories than you need to fuel yourself, the surplus is deposited into body fat, and you gain weight. Ludwig: After more than a three-decade increase, calorie consumption in the U.S. has plateaued or decreased since 2000. But obesity rates have increased by more than one-third since then, to an astounding 42 percent of the population today. Ludwig says overeating isn’t the primary cause of obesity, but the process of gaining weight causes us to overeat. Instead, the focus should be on reducing the surge of blood glucose and insulin after meals with a higher-fat diet low in processed carbs, he says. This way, fat tissue can be coaxed to release

For centuries, obesity has been viewed as a character flaw. Despite decades of research into the genetic and biological influences on body weight, people with obesity continue to be stigmatized. Energy balance thinking implicitly contributes to these stereotypes by blaming overeating on poor self-control. People with obesity are considered unable to resist tempting foods for conscious or subconscious reasons.