Where have we gone wrong?
While it is true that there is no single dietary culprit responsible for childhood obesity, there are certain foods in our grocery stores that are causing kids (and adults!) to unknowingly pack on extra pounds. The shift from whole to refined and processed foods is definitely one of the biggest contributors to the problem. Stripping a natural grain of its fiber, adding refined sugars, and adding chemicals such as MSG, which stimulate the brain to eat more and more, is a one-way ticket to weight gain for most. Although the effects of refined foods and sugars have been reviewed in the previous chapters, the following is a summary of the top five foods that are causing the epidemic of obesity in kids:
1. White, refined flour products: bread, bagels, cereals, muffins, crackers, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, and granola bars
2. White sugar: soda, candy, cookies, cakes, gum, and ketchup
3. Hydrogenated and/or partially hydrogenated fat: margarine, refined vegetable oils, chips, most microwave popcorn, cookies
4. Processed fast foods: luncheon meats, french fries, burgers, microwave pizza
5. Saturated fat: cheese, hot dogs, hamburgers, luncheon meats
As you now know, white refined flour and sugar will overtrigger the release of the hormone insulin, secreted by the pancreas. When excess insulin is secreted because of faulty food choices, it is stored as fat. With the perpetual intake of highly refined foods, which are the mainstay of an average child's diet, cell receptors become insensitive to the amount of insulin released. In order to compensate for the insulin insensitivity, the body will secrete more and more insulin to deal with the glucose (sugar) from the food. As a general rule, more insulin = more fat storage. In order to conceptualize the amount of insulin secreted by a healthy body versus a body that has become insulin insensitive, consider the following statistic by one of the world's foremost authorities in nutritional and natural medicine, Dr. Michael Murray: "It is estimated that healthy individuals secrete approximately 31 units of insulin daily, while the obese Type 2 diabetic secretes an average of 114 units daily."
The state of insulin insensitivity is the first step toward the development of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Luckily, this process can be halted and even reversed in children when proper dietary guidelines are introduced.
No one culprit can be blamed for childhood obesity, but certain foods are definitely helping everyone put on extra weight.
Excerpted from Winning the Food Fight. Copyright © 2003 by Dr. Joey Shulman. Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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