Even though the recommended daily calorie intake is 2,000 for women, 2,500 for men, the average intake in the U.S. has gone up just about a third in the last 30 years to reach 2,374 kilocalories (calories to the rest of us) a day contributing to the rise in obesity levels. Eating snacks and super sized portions are to blame according to recent work. Trying to keep track of what, and how much, you’re eating is a smart, simple way to stop the pounds from piling on.
Being overweight or obese comes from a simple energy imbalance… eating too many calories and not being active enough to burn them off.
A calorie is the term for a unit of energy that comes from food. So whether you’re eating carbs, fats, sugars or protein, all have calories, and in the end, this is what counts in terms of weight.
There are many factors that account for energy intake:
- the amount of calories in a food,
- the portion sizes eaten and
- the number of meals/snacks/drinks taken in over the course of the day.
While all these factors have gone up over the years, the number of chances to eat, along with bigger than ever portion sizes account for much of the increase.
Since the 1970s, levels of obesity have gone up quite dramatically in many western nations. In the Untied States, just about 72 million American adults are now considered obese, with BMIs of over 29.9. For adults, a BMI between 25.0 and 29.9 is considered overweight. These weight ranges are greater than what is usually considered healthy for a given height.
Having a BMI that comes in at over 29.9 is also known to increase your risk for certain disease and other disruptive health problems. Things like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol/triglycerides, stroke, liver or gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, respiratory issues, osteoarthritis, gynecological issues in women and cancers such as breast, colon and endometrial. A host of dangerous, life altering conditions that might be avoided.
The researchers looked at data from national food surveys that were conducted in the 70s, 80s, 90s as well as over the last ten years since the year 2000. The surveys called for participants to record all foods and beverages eaten over a full 24 hours.
The team saw that the average calorie intake went from the 1977-78s levels of 1,803 kcal, to over 2,300 kcal by the years the time we reached 2006. In the last ten years of the study, the daily calorie intake rose by 229 kcalories.
The findings suggest a change of focus when looking for ways to fight obesity. The research team suggests our prevention of obesity should concentrate on cutting down on snacks and meals eaten as the norm each day, as well as paying attention to the sizes of those portions.
Experts agree that many factors influence our total calorie intake and has led to a rise in obesity, but having all those eating chances over the course of a day certainly encourages taking in more calories, and encourages weight gain. Bigger portions of food and eating snacks have us taking in more calories than we need. If you’re looking to manage your weight, and your risk of disease, paying attention to what you’re eating, and how much, is a smart way to go.
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