"The first week of January is our Super Bowl for Weight Watchers," said David Burwick, North America's Weight Watchers president. During most Januaries, many Americans minds are firmly resolved to lose weight, however, their bodies may seem to be equally determined that they fail. Why?
Tara Parker-Pope explains in The Fat Trap that during and after weight loss, the brain and body change in ways that make it very difficult to avoid gaining weight back. The human body continues to fight against weight loss long after dieting has stopped. ' This translates into a sobering reality: once we become fat, most of us, despite our best efforts, will probably stay fat. Tara goes into detail, describing both the scientific evidence for the 'fat trap' and the ways in which some people succeed in keeping a substantial amount of lost weight off despite the odds.
In response, Dr. David Katz writes at the Huffington Post, 'If we are fighting our own bodies, we have cause to ask who started it, and where it's likely to end." He points out a non-biological barrier to weight loss. "It stands to reason that even a moderate array of environmental modifications would go a long way toward fixing the problem at its origins. Dr. Katz advocates for seeing obesity as a social problem, rather than a strictly biological one. But how do we change society?
The LA Times' Booster Shots blog suggests one place to start. In Wealthy nations with lots of fast food: Destined to be obese? Jeannine Stein describes a recent study that found that nations like the U.S. and Canada, which have a relatively high per capita density of fast food restaurants, have high obesity rates. Likewise, nations with fewer fast food restaurants per capita, such as Norway and Japan, have lower obesity rates.' Said lead study author Roberto De Vogli, "In my opinion, the public debate is too much focused on individual genetics and other individual factors and overlooks the global forces in society that are shaping behaviors worldwide."