• Integrative Doctor

Overeating – does it make you fat? Or is it the other way around?

It seems like common sense: eat too much and you will become overweight.



But a new paper from Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University suggests that this ‘common sense’ belief may be entirely the wrong way around – it is actually the process of getting fat that causes overeating.


The lead author of the study, endocrinologist Dr David Ludwig, points to the long-term failure of campaigns encouraging people to eat less and exercise more in the fight against obesity.


Dr Ludwig points out that the ‘energy balance model’, which says weight gain is caused by taking in more energy than we use, "restates a principle of physics without considering the biological mechanisms driving weight gain."


Instead, Dr Ludwig says the obesity epidemic is better explained by the carbohydrate-insulin model, which points to modern diets high in foods with a high glycemic load, especially processed carbohydrates.


These foods lead to increased insulin secretion, signalling fat cells to store more calories and leaving less energy for muscles and other tissues. Our brains interpret this as a lack of energy, making us feel hungry even as we eat more.


Dr Ludwig calls for further research, suggesting that effective weight loss strategies may hinge more on what we eat than how much.


At PIM we have a particular interest in the role of diet and nutrition in our health and wellbeing. Contact us to learn more.


Click here to read more about this research.


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