Sep 11 2010

Childhood Obesity Definitions-Part Three: Graehm Gray

Despite many efforts, the obesity epidemic persists. Adults and kids are getting heavier every minute. Continuing my goal to allow us all to understand the problems associated with childhood obesity, I am now presenting part three of the Childhood Obesity Series* on definitions. Parts One and Two have explained some basic terms that we all read and hear daily. I would call them buzz words that so many of us in the press use to convey our messages. Now we need to increase the size of our lexicon to include more advanced terminology and explanations in order for us to arrive at a solution: 

1 – Five a Day*

We have been told that we need a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Most research shows that fruits and vegetables are vital to promoting good health. Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may help protect you from chronic diseases. Compared with people who consume a diet with only small amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who eat more generous amounts as part of a healthful diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers. To get the amount that’s recommended, most people need to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables they currently eat every day. Current statistics show that only 32.5% of Americans met the goal of fruit intake in 2009 while only 26.3% of Americans met the goal of vegetable intake in 2009.  Healthy People 2010 objectives for fruits and vegetables include targets of increasing to 75% the proportion of persons aged ≥2 years who consume two or more servings of fruit daily and to 50% those who consume three or more servings of vegetables daily. My opinion-we all should be eating more fruits and veggies. Besides the science evidence showing that it helps, plant based diets are better for us in every way!

2 – What is a low carbohydrate diet?

Lets think of a carbohydrate as a sugar-either bread, rice, potato or pasta. A low carbohydrate diet (also called low-carb) means that you are eating very little (or even zero) of these items. If you drop the carbs from your meal plan, you need to increase the other items in the diet such as proteins (fish, poultry, meat, beans, tofu), vegetables and fats.  Two of the most famous low-carb diets include the Atkins Nutritional Approach* and the South Beach Diet*. Physician Robert Atkins, published his first book in 1972-Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution, promoting a restriction of carbohydrates to switch the body’s metabolism from burning glucose (sugar) to burning body fat.  The South Beach Diet, designed by Miami Beach cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston, tweeked the Atkins low-carb plan by recommending small amounts of  complex carbohydrates like whole grains, natural fruits and vegetables. Both plans emphasize adding more proteins, fats (good fats like olive and canola oils on the South Beach) and vegetables and eliminating regular sugars and processed starches. One issue with the low carb diet plans has been the amount of saturated fats and proteins (animal based) that are consumed. A recent study found that it was better to substitute fats and proteins from a vegetable source instead of an animal source. So my take is –if you are planning a low carb diet-load up on the veggies, canola and olive oils and keep your saturated fat intake extremely low!

3 – Is there really a “good fat”?*

As we all know, there are different types of fats. Let’s start with the saturated fats. These are the fats that are hard at room temperature. Animal and dairy products like cheese and cream and the fat on a steak or in chicken (also the skin) are typical examples. Saturated fats are also found in tropical oils like coconut and palm kernel oils. Even chocolate has some saturated fats.  For many years, research evidence suggested that consumption of saturated fats lead to a higher risk of heart disease and cancer. In fact, this is why so many experts warned patients against the low-carb diets and promoted the low-fat diets. However recent studies have not confirmed this long held belief! However, eating foods with saturated fats does raise the cholesterol level in your blood, which is not good,  so it is still important to limit the foods containing these fats.

Polyunsaturated fats are found in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring and trout), nuts (walnuts), vegetable oils (soybean, corn and safflower), some cheese, leafy greens, and seeds (sunflower). Studies with consumption of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, from the polyunsaturated family of fats, have shown a reduced risk of heart disease.

Monounsaturated fats, found in nuts, avocados and vegetable oils(olive oil, canola, peanut, sunflower and sesame) also known to be a healthy fat, have been shown to reduce cholesterol while increasing the good cholesterol-HDL in the blood.

Trans fats, which are synthetically made by hydrogenating an unsaturated fat, raise the bad cholesterol in your blood (the LDL) and eating trans fats has been positively associated with an increased risk of heart disease. We should all stay away from these bad guys. This is the meaning of a bad fat!

The bottom line with fats-eliminate all trans fats and balance your consumption with the polys and monos and don’t eat a lot of the saturated fats. This would make sense from the dietary stand point- eat more fish and a plant based diet and less of an animal based diet. That’s the best diet tip of all!


My friends, stay fit and healthy The New Nerdel Way!

 Links associated with the content of this article: 

  1. Medpage Today: Low-Carb Diet is Better When Rich In Veggies
  2. American Heart Association: Fats 101
  3. The Nerdel News: Graehm Gray: Childhood Obesity Definitions Part One and Part Two
  4. Five a Day
  5. Atkins Nutritional Approach
  6. South Beach Diet
  7. Updated for 2017***: Jen Reviews-an excellent site that provides in-depth reviews






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