What Happened?

Causes of Overweight Epidemic?

Nearly Third of World Population Is Overweight!

710 Million of World´s Population Is Obese

The New England Journal of Medicine published, in June this year, details of the alarming conclusions of an American study. This had looked at 2015 overweight and obesity data from 195 countries. (Close to all the countries in the world.)

The study found that 2.2 billion of the world´s population fell into the overweight category in 2015, with 710 million of them are obese. These figures are for adults and children, but the overweight/obesity trend for children in some countries is specially worrying. There is even an increasing number of babies born already obese!

It is considered that 4 million deaths in 2015 were caused by excess weight. 40% of these deaths were of people who were overweight, but not obese.

Causes of the Overweight and Obedity Crisis?

American government researchers recently caused turmoil in the dieting world. They announced two controversial findings.

   1.  The overweight have a lower risk of dying than those who are not overweight.
   2.  Overweight or obesity are responsible for many fewer deaths in the USA than had been previously thought.


The causes of overweight can be many

Specialists poured scorn on the way the study had been conducted. It is now generally accepted that it was seriously flawed, thereby giving very misleading results. Overweight and obesity continue to be generally regarded as bad for health.

There have, though, been various reports and studies that attribute the problem mainly to lack of physical activity. We have become slothful, spending a large part of out waking day sitting at our jobs or watching TV.. Some of the people who believe lack of exercise is responsible for the overweight problems have some compelling statistics to back up their opinion. More on this below!

Difference of Opinion

There are arguments as to the true causes of overweight and obesity and most possible causes have supporters. These supporters are sometimes loud in their conviction that they are right. 

Many experts consider sugar to be the main culprit for the overweight and obesity crisis world-wide. Dr Robert Lustig, an American pediatric endocrinologist, has become famous in denouncing sugar as addictive and toxic. Many other well-known doctors and researchers back Dr Lustig´s opinions.

Possibly, sugar is simply another factor within a general overeating problem. We certainly eat more than we did in the past. Plates are piled high at meal times and we have fattening snacks between meals. Fattening and unhealthy junk food have become all too common, as people look for convenience rather than health.

Identify the Causes of Overweight and Obesity

Dieting is a huge world-wide business. Just the US weight loss market is estimated to be over $ 65 billion a year. Consequently, there are many experts in the field and they frequently have conflicting views.

An example of this was two articles in the UK´s Daily Mail newspaper.

13 January 2016:   "Exercise ISN'T the best way to lose weight: Leading expert reveals the reasons YOUR New Year diet might be failing." 

16 May 2016:   "Exercise not diet IS the key to weight loss: Physical activity is 'magic bullet' for pandemics of obesity and heart disease."

Probably, losing or maintaining weight is not, for most people, a question of just one thing. Rather, it involves consuming the right amounts of healthy food and drink and engaging in physical activity. 

A good start to getting weight down is to consider the reasons for being overweight. Most people who fall into that category will not have much difficulty in identifying some causes. Too many sugary foods or too much food in general. Large snacks in front of the TV. Lack of any significant exercise.

"If Only..........." Footnote to the Overweight and Obesity Epidemic

“If only a small fraction of what we know about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive, that material would promptly be banned.”  John Yudkin, early 1970´s.                                                                                                                                      

They should have paid attention to John Yudkin, a British physiologist and nutritionist. More than 30 years before anyone else, he concluded that sugar was responsible for overweight and obesity. Probably it was also a cause for a collection of other health conditions. He wrote a book “Pure, White and Deadly” (“Sweet and Dangerous” in the USA), which was a big success with the public on both sides of the Atlantic.

However, the prevailing idea at the time was that fat is responsible for overweight and obesity. The leading proponent of this was Ancel Keys, an American physiologist. He, together with the worldwide sugar industry, successfully ruined Yudkin´s reputation.

Recently, the American pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, has succeeded in restoring Yudkin´s reputation. Like Yudkin 30 years previously, Lustig is convinced that sugar is the cause of the world-wide weight problem.

Many people have been seriously ill or have died as a consequence of the world not listening to Yudkin.

Yudkin died in 1995, before his reputation was restored.

("Peppermint Wellness", feels very strongly about this and put together a tribute to John Yudkin. You can find it here.)


According to most specialists, this is the likely cause for overweight. Some experts, however, maintain that weight has little to do with simple overeating.

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Sugar is fattening and provides virtually no nourishment. Many well-known doctors consider sugar to be a toxic and addictive poison. There are heated arguments at times.

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This is another school of thought. It considers the overweight/obesity crisis to be entirely due to a drastic reduction in the exercise that people do. 

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There are many, often small things, that can easily lead to weight gain. There is a certain amount of dispute over the effects of genes. Are overweight/obesity inherited?

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