By Dr. Barry Sears
Back in 2005, in my book, The Anti-Inflammation Zone, I wrote that many trends start in the United States and then cover the globe. We’ve exported Big Macs, Coca-Cola and the USDA Food Pyramid.
Now, five years later a report from the research organization, Datamonitor, indicates we have also exported childhood obesity – now more than one-third of European children are obese.
The organization attributes this weight gain to increased affluence and blames the usual suspects. “This is caused by a combination of eating too many calories and not doing enough physical activity,” according to the report.
That’s the same mantra that is used over and over in the United States. But obesity will not be curbed by eating less and exercising more unless we find shelter from the perfect nutritional storm that began in the United States and now has been exported across the globe.
New research indicates the primary factor has been the increasing consumption of omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable oils, made in the USA.
The United States is also the king as far as processed foods are concerned, and we’ve been happy to share our junk food with children around the world.
And in Europe, as well as here at home, the amount of omega-3s consumed has dramatically declined.
The solution is to follow an anti inflammatory diet, increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids and dramatically reduce the intake of omega-6 fatty acids. Unfortunately this is easier said than done because of the ubiquitous presence of omega-6 fatty acids in virtually every processed food. Fortunately, increased intake of EPA and DHA (about 2.5 grams of EPA and DHA per day) can dilute out the inflammatory impact of these excess omega-6 fatty acids on our genes.
The bottom line, no pun intended, is that if there is no dietary change, children will continue to get fatter no matter how much they exercise because the genes that make children fat and keep them fat are being constantly turned on by diet they consume.