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Dr. Obvious: ‘New Discoveries’ About Obesity…

Dr. Obvious is just bursting with ‘hot’ food and health news items that tell us things we already knew. This Monday’s feature is a compilation of ‘learned study’ findings that confirm ‘facts’ we have long known or suspected about obesity, simply through observation and common sense…

Fat Parent Fat kid - © Frank Siteman - Science FactionObesity: Isn’t it obvious?

Excess screen time = obesity

Rice University researchers recruited a group of 132 test subjects between the ages of 18 and 23 (sounds like undergraduates, to me) and had them undergo physical exams to quantify their ‘fitness’. They were also asked to fill out a questionnaire assessing their levels of media multitasking and distractibility. To quantify this angle of the research, the team used the recently released 18-item Media Multitasking-Revised (MMT-R) scale. The MMT-R scale measures proactive behaviors of compulsive or inappropriate phone use (like feeling the urge to check your phone for messages while you’re talking to someone else) as well as more passive behaviors (like media-related distractions that interfere with your work).

They found that folks with a higher distractability rating also had higher Body Mass Index (BMI) numbers and a greater percentage of body fat. In addition, high BMI subjects showed increased levels of brain stimulation when when shown photos of high-calorie foods. And the questionnaire revealed that the high BMI subjects also spent more time in the cafeteria.

No kidding.

Overweight folks often de-humanized

This isn’t news. In fact, it’s an iconic thread in the 21st Century’s social fabric. We even have a name for it: fat shaming.

So what has science discovered that we didn’t already know?

Researchers at Liverpool University wanted to know whether the average person believes that individuals with obesity are less evolved and less human than those without obesity. They had more than 1,500 subjects from the UK, the US and India complete questionnaires to indicate how evolved they considered different groups of people to be on a scale from 0-100.

On average, participants placed obese people approximately 10 points below people without obesity on the ‘evolutionary scale’. Blatant dehumanisation was most common among thinner participants.

Dr. Obvious says this one’s simple: The skinny people are afraid of fat people because, “There, but for the grace of my great metabolism (or my eating disorder), go I.” Fat people are a constant reminder to skinny ones that it can happen to them, too – and, throughout the ages, people have hated the things they fear.

Late-day eating may promote obesity

We all know that eating our supper late in the evening or making a habit of a ‘bedtime snack’ is going to make is fatter. Same with sneaking as overnight snack when you feel less guilty because nobody else is watching. But, now, researchers at the University of Colorado have ‘discovered’ that late eating is statistically tied to obesity.

The week-long study included 31 overweight and obese adults, average age 36. Ninety percent were women. They were enrolled in an ongoing weight-loss trial comparing daily caloric restrictions to time-restricted feeding, meaning they could only eat during certain hours of the day. Participants wore sophisticated activity trackers and sent cell phone pictures of their meals and snacks to the research team.

While obese and normal subjects both consumed food over approximately an 11-hour window during their waking time and slept an average of 7 hours, those who ate later has consistently high BMIs.

“Yah,” says Dr. O. “And don’t forget that your body is at its least active when you’re sleeping. You burn fewer Calories, and your metabolism is geared more to storing rather expending energy.” We’ve known that since well before the good Doctor got his MD, and he’s no Spring Chicken.

So, there you have it…

…The latest ‘discoveries’ science has to share about obesity. What next?

“If the conclusions are what’s important in the end,” Dr. O. wonders, “why must we exspend so much learned brainpower and money exploring the mechanisms when the answer is obvious?”

~ Maggie J.