Obesity: Are We Food Obsessed?

By Neuroskeptic | March 24, 2012 9:24 am

According to a Professor Greg Whyte, writing in the Independent, when it comes to obesity, we’ve got an unhealthy obsession with diet. There is –

an incessant diatribe of diet propaganda purporting to possess the panacea for health… [but] the focus on diet linked to the volume and make-up of calories we consume has overshadowed the importance of the critical half of the energy balance equation: physical activity.

Clearly weight is, to a first approximation, a matter of calories in (diet) vs. calories out (physical activity). For any given diet, whether you lose or gain weight is determined by how much exercise you do, and vice versa. There’s no such thing as “overeating” as such, there’s just eating out of proportion to your level of exercise.

But have we forgotten that? Do we talk about the diet side of the equation more? I ran a few searches on PubMed and Google for “obesity” + various other terms to try and find out and it looks like Whyte is right.

See the graph above.

There does seem to be an imbalance, with “food” and “diet” being much more popular than “exercise” and “physical activity”, both in terms of the scientific literature (PubMed), and more generally (Google). This is just a quick analysis of course, but it does suggest that when it comes to weight and obesity, we are more interested in calories in, than calories out.

I wonder why?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: graphs, media, papers, politics, science


No brain. No gain.

About Neuroskeptic

Neuroskeptic is a British neuroscientist who takes a skeptical look at his own field, and beyond. His blog offers a look at the latest developments in neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology through a critical lens.


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