June 04, 2004
Fructose Consumption May Lead To Obesity

One of the great challenges of adapting human bodies to the modern era is to get control of appetite. Humans tend to eat too much when food is cheap, easily available, and prepared to appeal to their cravings. As a result, the incidence of obesity is rising rapidly in the industrialized countries and this is causing a higher incidence of a large range of obesity-related diseases including joint problems, heart disease, and even an increased risk of cancer. Therefore research into factors that affect appetite and the tendency to gain weight is very important for finding ways to make humans more adaptive to environments that are much different from our ancestors' environments which selected for our food cravings.

In America trade restrictions on sugar imports under a tariff rate quota system have increased the cost of the common table sugar sucrose (which is a dimer of glucose and fructose covalently bonded to each other). The result has been such high costs for table sugar that liquid beverage makers responded by switching to using high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener. Your FuturePundit been annoyed about this for a long time and have been aware of theories of potential harm from excess fructose consumption for years. Well, science has begun to confirm at least one of those theories with a new report which shows that fructose consumption in place of glucose consumption causes blood changes which are unfavorable and which may lead to obesity.

Philadelphia, PA -- Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, the University of California, Davis and other collaborating colleagues report that drinking beverages containing fructose, a naturally-occurring sugar commonly used to sweeten soft drinks and other beverages, induces a pattern of hormonal responses that may favor the development of obesity.

It is estimated that consumption of fructose has increased by 20-30% over the past three decades, a rate of increase similar to that of obesity, which has risen dramatically over the same time span. Data from the present study suggest a mechanism by which fructose consumption could be one factor contributing to the increased incidence of obesity.

In the study, reported in the June 4 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 12 normal-weight women ate standardized meals on two days. The meals contained the same number of calories and the same distribution of total carbohydrate, fat and protein. On one day the meals included a beverage sweetened with fructose. On the other day, the same beverage was sweetened with an equal amount of glucose, another naturally-occurring sugar that is used by the body for energy.

Following meals accompanied by the fructose-sweetened beverage, circulating levels of insulin and leptin were decreased compared to when the women ate the same meals accompanied by the glucose-sweetened beverage. Lower levels of insulin and leptin, hormones that convey information to the brain about the body's energy status and fat stores, have been linked in other studies to increased appetite and obesity.

In addition, levels of ghrelin, a hormone thought to trigger appetite that normally declines following a meal, decreased less after meals on the day the women drank the fructose-sweetened beverage. And, the fructose also resulted in a long-lasting increase of triglycerides, fatty molecules in the blood that are indicators of risk for cardiovascular disease.

Together, the hormonal responses observed after drinking beverages sweetened with fructose suggest that prolonged consumption of diets high in energy from fructose could lead to increased caloric intake and contribute to weight gain and obesity. Lead author Karen Teff, Ph.D., a physiologist at Monell, comments, "Fructose consumption results in a metabolic profile of hormones which would be predicted to increase food intake, thereby contributing to obesity in susceptible populations."

Teff notes that this pattern of hormonal responses is similar to that observed after consuming a high-fat meal, and continues, "Based on our previously published work, this metabolic profile resembles that of fat consumption. Thus, despite the fact that fructose is a sugar, metabolically the responses are similar to those seen following fat ingestion." The elevated levels of plasma triglycerides observed after fructose consumption further suggest that frequent fructose consumption could also contribute to the development of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

According to co-author Dr. Peter Havel, a research endocrinologist at the University of California, Davis, "Although this short-term experiment provides important new data, additional research is needed to investigate the long-term impact of consuming fructose in humans, particularly its effects on lipid metabolism and on endocrine signals involved in body weight regulation. New studies should also be conducted in subjects who are at increased risk for metabolic diseases such as type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and who may be more susceptible to the adverse effects of overconsuming fructose".

Who do we have to blame for all the fructose in Coca Cola and Pepsi? Well, leaving aside an apathetic public that shouldn't allow its politicians to be bought off or the politicians themselves how about the Fanjul sugar family formerly of Cuba and now of Florida?

The Fanjuls are formidable adversaries. They control about 40 percent of Florida’s sugar crop, and last year they made contributions to 31 political candidates, giving more than any other sugar power. They deeply resent their nickname: the first family of corporate welfare. Little known to the American public, Pepe and Alfy Fanjul operate within the hidden world of implicit linkage, the grand club of the country’s power brokers, who routinely trade favors like baseball cards. "There is a rule to understanding life in South Florida," author and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen tells me. "Alligators don’t give to political campaigns, and the Fanjuls do." Last year the Fanjuls and Florida Crystals gave $486,000 to Democratic candidates and $279,000 to Republicans. (Alfy, who co-chaired Clinton’s Florida campaign in 1992, is the family’s Democrat; Pepe, who was on Bob Dole’s finance committee in 1996, is the family’s Republican.) "The most telling thing about Alfy Fanjul is that he can get the president of the United States on the telephone in the middle of a blow job. That tells you all you need to know about their influence," Hiaasen says.

Read Marie Brenner's full article from that last link if you are in the mood for some moral outrage.

There is some obvious personal take-home advice here: avoid refined fructose. Consider avoiding the sweetest fruits and If you are having a problem with obesity avoiding fructose is probably even more important.

Obesity is a serious problem. The Scientist has an excellent survey of the costs and the scientific advances being made in appetite and obesity research. (requires free registration and it is an excellent site to register for access)

Obesity is also about money. Last year, the United States spent $75 billion on medical expenditures attributable to obesity; about one-half of this money came from public coffers.3 The US Federal Trade Commission estimates that North Americans spend $35 billion per year on weight-loss products and programs. "Industry has recognized that this is the largest possible market worldwide ever," says Tschöp. "This is a large amount of people that will have to take a drug until the end of their life, and those people have money." Seckl, whose team identified 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, an enzyme linked to obesity, says that one drug company recently sold an inhibitor for $86 million.

My guess is those numbers underestimate the real costs of obesity because it increases so many disease risks. A major reason why obesity is harmful to you is that fat cells secrete hormones and when a person is obese the doses of those secreted hormones become so great that they cause toxic effects on the body.

The problem is the volume of chemicals these oversize cells churn out, says Dr. George Bray of Louisiana State University. "The big cell secretes more of everything that it secreted when it was small. When you get more of these things, they are not good for you."

The future achievement of control over human appetite will therefore be an enormous health benefit.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2004 June 04 04:22 PM  Brain Appetite


Comments
Fly said at June 4, 2004 6:00 PM:

How ironic. Twenty years ago fructose was recommended as a replacement for sucrose because fructose has a higher glycemic index.

Note that the experiment was short term. The body systems are often resistant to change. The body adapts and the short-term effect disappears.

In my opinion the body has multiple redundant systems to make certain that humans have an adequate supply of nutrients. This system works best when the human exercises. (The biological animal maintains itself in dynamic balance. E.g., bones need gravity to stay strong.) There are many ways in which the system can fail leading to obesity.

Some people are obese from birth. (Interesting possibilities of epigentic links while in the womb and early development of the brain.) Some obesity is linked to specific genetic conditions. No amount of self-control or exercise will help these people.

Some people become obese as they age. I suspect a direct age associated malfunction of hormonal systems combined with aging bodies responding less to exercise and healing less quickly. Diet and exercise help but aren’t enough.

The biological basis of homeostasis is slowly being solved. I’m hopeful of a medical cure but I don’t expect the answer will be a single simple cause such as too much fructose.

(My brother and sister were obese from childhood. While I ate at the same table, I was luckier with my genes. I have stayed fit and athletic by stringently watching my diet and regularly exercising. No soda pop and few sweets. As I’ve aged I’m slowly losing the battle. Exercise is less effective and I’m spending too much time recovering from injury.)

“The future achievement of control over human appetite will therefore be an enormous health benefit.”

I strongly agree.

Bob Badour said at June 4, 2004 10:40 PM:

The real issue is not fructose vs sucrose. The real solution is to avoid refined sugars of all kinds and to slow the absorption of any carbohydrates one does eat.

Lower insulin levels also mean less of the sugar gets converted to fat.

Coke and Pepsi will never be healthy drinks, and I know one man who gained 100 lbs drinking Gatorade.

Fly said at June 5, 2004 5:25 PM:

Bob,

My brother has followed a low carb diet for twenty years. It helps but he is still obese. He also does physical labor and practices Kung Fu several hours each week.

People are different. What works for one person may not work for another. I shared workouts with a girl friend. Weight training and cardio kept her very fit but didn’t help her lose fat. (Working out beside her, I know she put in the time and effort.)

Bob Badour said at June 5, 2004 6:56 PM:

Fly,

I know nothing about your brother's diet. One will get very fat eating a 12,000 calorie per day low carb diet.

I fail to see how your post addresses anything I said or the issue of fructose vs sucrose. A high fructose high fiber fruit will always be much more healthy than anything with significant amounts of refined sugar of any kind.

Fly said at June 6, 2004 1:39 PM:

Bob,

I don’t disagree with your statement that refined sugars are not healthy. I also believe that insulin swings are likely detrimental. I was responding to this statement:

“The real solution is to avoid refined sugars of all kinds and to slow the absorption of any carbohydrates one does eat.”

This is far too simplistic and implies a “one size fits all” solution. The reality is far, far more complicated. Avoiding refined sugars is good nutritional advice but it is not a general “solution” for obesity.

“One will get very fat eating a 12,000 calorie per day low carb diet.”

Yes, eating “too much” makes one fat. Clearly a person who doesn’t eat loses weight. The interesting question is why a person eats too much. (And why some people can over eat without gaining fat.)

The body should maintain itself in a healthy balance. Excess fat should cause diminished appetite and more calories burnt for heat. In a healthy body, you wouldn’t become obese because excessive eating would give you no pleasure. (Sure you might be tempted by a special treat, but your body would adjust by eating less at the next meal.)

Eating is controlled at deep brain levels. When the system goes wrong the body believes it is not eating enough. That results in many body responses. Appetite is increased and energy expenditure is curtailed. Yes, some people can control eating through will power. It can lead to obsessing about food. Or it can lead to a person hating their body and feeling shame whenever they eat. (My sister hated that I could eat lots of anything and not get fat.)

For many young healthy people eating a good diet with vegetables, fruits, nuts, fiber, and oily fish will maintain their weight in a desirable range. If diet doesn’t suffice then exercise usually helps. (I’ve known people who averaged more than two hours of hard cardio per day. I’ve even been one of them.)

Yes, refined sugar plays a role. First, sugar is empty calories that supply no vitamins or minerals or essential fats and proteins. Second, sugar can cause insulin surges that have harmful effects on many body tissues. Third, the insulin surge leads to low blood sugar and that stimulates appetite. (The real story is more complicated. Extensive testing has shown that low carb diets aren’t any more successful than low fat diets. The human body tends to adjust to whatever it is fed.)

(BTW, there are two groups that I consider to be experts on dieting, the chronically obese and body builders. A body builder trying to achieve a competitive body fat less than 3% faces the same difficulty as the chronically obese trying to maintain a normal bodyfat percentage. Both are trying to push their body systems far from where they “want” to be.)

Bob Badour said at June 6, 2004 8:42 PM:

Fly,

Anthropomorphizing body chemistry does nobody any good. Your body does not "want" to be anywhere.

Assuming design or will in evolution does nobody any good. There is no should in body chemistry. It is what it is. It can change to what it can be--with various consequences.

I know from first-hand experience that a ketogenic diet is very effective for losing weight if one has no insurmountable problems with nausea.

I did not propose a solution to obesity. I proposed a solution for choosing carbohydrate macronutrients.

Fly said at June 7, 2004 12:38 AM:

Bob,

Communicating on the Internet is often confusing. Let me clarify:

Suppose I have a marble lying in a bowl. I push the marble up the side of the bowl. The marble “wants” to return to the bottom of the bowl. Writing “wants” seemed clearer than talking about dynamic biological systems with hormonal and brain feedback loops that orbit near low energy states.

“I know from first-hand experience that a ketogenic diet is very effective for losing weight if one has no insurmountable problems with nausea.”

I know people who agree with you. One has kept off 30 pounds for over fifteen years. (He also began and stayed on a moderate exercise program.) I’m not suggesting low carb diets don’t help some people.

I also know people who have maintained normal body weight on low fat diets. And people for whom exercise is successful.

I also know there was a major government review of the long-term success rate of low-fat, low-carb, and balanced diets. They all had about the same success rate, poor. (And yet each does work for some people.) (While I’m sceptical of government diet reports I’m familiar with an expert on low carb dieting who posts on the BobyBuilding newsgroup who came to a similar conclusion. Even though he’d written a book on the use of low carb diets in bodybuilding, results with his clients, feedback from his readers, and surveys of recent scientific literature changed his views. The early metabolic advantages of low carb disappeared after the first few weeks. In the long run low fat, low carb, and balanced diets had similar success rates.)

Randall posted an article linking fructose to short term changes in metabolic hormone profiles. This led to conjecture linking increased fructose use to increasing obesity in the US population. I believe this conjecture ignores existing data. If fructose is strongly linked to obesity then the government review should have found that low carb diets (clearly low in fructose) were more successful than low fat diets (high in carbs and probably high in fructose). That is not what the government review found. That leads me to believe that the linked report is interesting but is only a small part of a much more complicated system. As I wrote above I don’t expect to find a single, simple cause.

(I read another report claiming that chemicals leeching from plastic bottles may be causing the obesity epidemic. Some chemicals leech into the water, the chemicals can cause hormonal changes, hormonal changes can cause obesity so plastic pop bottles could cause obesity. Fine, except where is the study to back up the conjecture. Are people who regularly drink water from plastic bottles really more likely to be obese?)

Randall Parker said at June 7, 2004 1:46 AM:

Fly, You state:

The body should maintain itself in a healthy balance. Excess fat should cause diminished appetite and more calories burnt for heat. In a healthy body, you wouldn’t become obese because excessive eating would give you no pleasure. (Sure you might be tempted by a special treat, but your body would adjust by eating less at the next meal.)

Well, this depends on how you define "healthy body". Ideally the body should work that way. But most bodies do not. Why? Because that is now how the genes are instructing the brain to behave. For most of history calorie malnutrition was the major cause of death. Really. In some cases from outright death from starvation and in other cases indirectly by a weakening of the immune system that made the body easier prey to disease. One of the reason epidemics declined in incidence was that calorie malnutrition declined in incidence.

Anyway, the need for calories has been such a strong selective force in evolution that many people tend to put on weight when calories are in abundance.

As for the limited success of various diets: my guess is there is enough genetic variation in the population that the ideal weight-losing diet is different for different people. Of course for a large portion of the overweight no diet works or only works temporarily. We need effective and safe treatments for suppressing appetite.

Fly said at June 7, 2004 3:09 PM:

Randall,

I mostly agree with what you’ve written.

When I write on this topic, I’m often trying to say to my obese siblings what I didn’t say to them forty years ago. As a child I believed what everyone believed. Just stop eating and you wont be fat. Stupid and cruel. Sigh.

“Ideally the body should work that way. But most bodies do not. Why? Because that is now how the genes are instructing the brain to behave.”

I believe for most people their bodies do regulate properly in this manner. (I’m too lazy to back up my statements with Google links so feel free to discount ‘em.)

When people diet, their bodies soon adjust by increasing appetite and decreasing metabolism. Even behaviour is affected as the dieter reduces common activity, e.g. brushing one’s teeth. In order to continue losing weight the daily caloric intake must be drastically reduced. From a study on starvation during WWII. (People following Caloric restriction maintain their body weight at very low calorie levels.)

The human body detects food calorie levels within twenty-four hours and adjusts food intake accordingly by regulating appetite. Researchers supplied test subjects all their food as “milk shakes” that had the same taste and texture but contained different amounts of calories. Within twenty-four hours the students adjusted the amount they ate, thereby maintaining the same caloric intake.

It is known that obese people usually have high blood levels of leptin. Researchers wanted to determine whether the high leptin levels were a result of obesity or whether the higher levels could be causing obesity. Using volunteer prisoners of normal weight as test subjects the researchers planned to slowly increase their body fat by having them eat 100 extra calories per day. (According to prevailing medical beliefs of that time, the extra 100 calories should have eventually led to obesity.) After an average weight gain of five pounds, the prisoners lost their appetites. Even though food lost its appeal, the prisoners forced themselves to eat the extra calories. However they stopped gaining weight. The researchers had to up the amount of extra calories to force the test subjects to gain more fat. Eventually the test subjects had to eat twice their “normal” daily calories to become obese. When the study was complete, 29 test subjects quickly returned to their pre-experiment weight. One whose family had a history of obesity stayed obese. (BTW, in this experiment the researchers found that forced obesity resulted in high blood levels of leptin. We now know that a specific region in the brain responds to leptin by decreasing appetite and adjusting metabolism. A few chronically obese people have defective leptin receptors so that they are always in “starvation” mode.)

So most people are healthy and their bodies maintain a normal body weight.

Unfortunately a “normal” body weight may not be what is optimally healthy or what we desire.

I don’t believe anyone really knows why the US population is growing fatter. Lots of conjecture but little hard evidence. Clearly diets have changed, more tasty treats are available (and more fructose is consumed). Clearly activity levels are different, less physical labor and less active play for children. It could be related to an unknown environmental factor such as plastic bottles. It could be due to factors affecting development in the womb. Perhaps women on birth control are affecting their infants through hormones in their milk. It could be because fatter people have been having more babies than thinner people. It could be because fewer people are smoking. Or because the “speed” that doctors once prescribed for women to lose weight is now illegal. It could be a mixture of all these factors or none of them.

I don’t believe the proper approach to solving the problem is to demonize certain foods or to blame people for being gluttons or lazy. Or to blame fast food companies or snack companies. I’d give people the same advice I’d give to my obese siblings, eat a healthy diet and regularly exercise and then accept yourself as you are. I am hopeful that better understanding of the underlying biology will lead to safe, effective appetite control.

Bob Badour said at June 7, 2004 3:24 PM:

Fly,

Perhaps "want" works effectively for something as simple as a marble in a bowl, which involves a single absolute minimum. The body is a complex chemical system with too many local maxima and minima to count. Cover the deck of a ship in bowls and toss a marble in the air during rough seas and tell me: Where does the marble "want" to go?

As I said, anthropomorphizing body chemistry does nobody any good.

Randall has already addressed the "should" aspect. If we were designed for a specific purpose, you could talk about what we should do to achieve that purpose. We were not designed; we were selected. The only criterion for which we were selected is how well our ancestors propagated their genes into future generations. Storing excess energy for future use helped past generations propagate their genes to present generations.

I lost a steady 20 lbs per month for four months on a ketogenic diet. The chemical changes lasted a lot longer than the initial two weeks. Of course, such a diet can only work when one has fat to use as fuel.

I agree that different diets will work for different groups of people. The high incidence of diabetes among Amerinds suggests that they in particular need to avoid simple carbohydrates. I suspect the same is not as true for Asian populations accustomed to eating rice as a staple.

Fly said at June 7, 2004 11:22 PM:

“Where does the marble "want" to go?”

Most people don’t experience wild weight oscillations.

Identical twins tend to lose and gain weight in a very similar pattern throughout their lives.

As people age there is a very common age associated pattern.

Most dieters (>90%) regain lost weight within two years.

Seems to me like that marble knows how to find the bottom of the bowl. (Doesn’t get stuck in local minimums.)

PS Congratulations on the 80 lb loss. That took dedication. Did your program include an exercise program? Did you use any stimulants, supplements, or drugs? How long have you maintained the fat loss?

Bob Badour said at June 8, 2004 6:41 PM:

No stimulants. Exercise is optional -- I did not exercise.

Dr. monitored potassium supplementation, lots of water and vitamin B injections.

I did well maintaining my weight until I got depressed late last fall and went on a carbohydrate binge at Christmas. I have been holding steady since Christmas but I need to lose a few pounds again. (I can still squeeze into my thin clothes so I haven't given up yet. LOL)

Potassium needs to be monitored during prolonged rapid weight loss due to potassium's important role in regulating muscles--including the heart. One goes through a lot of potassium on a ketogenic diet but too much potassium will kill you just as quick as too little.

(Actually, my downfall started when I visited a friend in Indiana. Indiana is an evil state. They have KFC's with all-you-can-eat buffets there.)

Bob Badour said at June 8, 2004 6:42 PM:

Oh, and most obese people do experience wild weight fluctuations.

Bob Badour said at June 8, 2004 6:44 PM:

Oh, and most adult women experience them too.

Fly said at June 8, 2004 8:05 PM:

Bob,

When I was 22 I decided I was getting a little pudgy because I could pinch an inch at my waist. I was sure I’d have no problem getting back to an optimal weight. (After all my obese brother and sister just didn’t have any will power. Right?) Sure enough the dieting was easy. In three weeks I dropped about eight pounds (probably four lbs of water) just in time for Christmas. I started eating Christmas cookies and couldn’t stop. I’d eat until I couldn’t fit one more cookie into my stomache. I quickly gained back the weight I’d lost and my appetite returned to normal. For the first time in my life I had a clue as to what my brother and sister had faced since childhood.

Since then I’ve kept track of the science literature and followed the online newsgroups with the real experts, the obese and body builders.


Dieters do have lots of weight oscillation. They keep pushing that marble up the side of the bowl but it keeps coming back down. Women have monthly oscillations associated with hormone levels. Rather than a weight set point I view it as weight orbit (or in nonlinear dynamics terms, a strange attractor.)

Bob Badour said at June 9, 2004 8:04 PM:

When I was obese and not dieting, my weight fluctuated. It could be as much as 10 lbs either way in the course of a day or two. I wouldn't be surprised if all eight of the eight pounds you lost were water. Just by cutting back on carbohydrates your body will shed a lot of water rapidly.

At my obese weight, the initial water loss was about 11 lbs.

Your model of a single bowl is flawed. I know this from direct experience. You don't seem to want to hear that.

Fly said at June 9, 2004 10:32 PM:

Bob,

Loss of water weight alone would not explain the reduced fat on my waist. I reached my goal of being able to only pinch a quarter inch before ending my diet. Sigh, thirty years later I can pinch an inch and a quarter.

“Your model of a single bowl is flawed. I know this from direct experience. You don't seem to want to hear that.”

Each of us filters the available information to construct our own worldview. My view is based on twenty-five years of following the science literature and reading news groups devoted to the obese and bodybuilders. Many, many discussions of the merits of many, many diets, exercise programs, supplements, and drugs.

I’ve heard a lot. That is why I wanted to hear of your own experience and significant contributing factors. If you successfully maintain your weight loss for two years, you will be one of the “lucky” 5%. That is a significant accomplishment and I congratulate you on your success to date. I “want” to hear good news, but I will only believe good news supported by good scientific studies.

To date, the successful programs seem to be those that permanently modify behavior by significantly changing food types, i.e., more vegetables, fruits (yes, fruits with all that fructose), nuts, and fish, and incorporating regular exercise. I’ve seen no reliable statistical information that indicated that low carb works better than low fat or balanced diets over the long term (two years or more). (These are average results and don’t mean that some diets won’t work better for some people. I’ve read speculation that low carb diets may work better on people who are naturally insulin resistant.)

Supplements that stimulate such as tea, johimbe, and ephedra also help shed pounds but the pounds will come back when the supplement is discontinued. Many people experienced long term significant weight reduction while on fen-phen. (Unfortunately some had heart valve problems.)

No method is totally successful. The farther one’s “set point” is from one’s desired weight, the more one must change eating habits and exercise and the more difficult it is to maintain the weight loss. For some people diet changes and exercise alone won’t suffice. (I’ve known women who ate healthy diets and walked an hour each day but still weighted well over two hundred pounds. They were very fit, but fat.) I believe the “bowl” model reflects this reality.

The “bowl” model or “set point” model is flawed in that no model begins to capture the complexity of the real system. However, it is far better than the model pushed by the medical community for thirty years, i.e., if a person eats 100 calories per day less, they will lose all the excess fat. This “advice” totally ignores known scientific studies showing how body systems change with changing body fat percentage.

Jay Fox said at June 14, 2004 4:19 PM:

It's nice to see strong disagreements like this, especially when both sides bring personal experience and knowledge gained over a good portion of a lifetime.

My weight loss experience is probably atypical, but I've learned a lot about "set points", though I liked the set orbit or strange attractor notion better.

I'm 5'9". In high school, I weighed 195 pounds. The whole time. All four years. My first two years, I had P.E. classes and ate a little healthier, whereas my last two years, I basically did no exercise, and ate a lot more junk food and fast food.

During two of the summers, I went to Europe on school trips, where I walked roughly 8-15 miles a day, and ate a much healthier diet.

Yet I never went above 198 or below 190 the whole time. Not until I graduated from high school, and then inexplicably, I went to 208. I added exercise, took the stairs at my job instead of the elevator, and got back down to 195.

Then I went away to college, and after about a year, I started jogging. I went from barely being able to do a 10-minute mile to doing 6.5 miles (quarter-marathon) in under an hour, and I could go four miles at an 8-minute mile pace.

I ate rice and pasta and veggies and chicken breasts, and I got my weight down from 195 to 165 in two months. BTW, I still had a belly, so I'm guessing my "ideal" weight for my frame is about 130-145.

Anyway, when summer came and I went home, I stopped exercising, started eating junk food, and balooned to 220 in less than a year. For the last five years, I've had to work hard to get below 220, and never for very long. I say work hard, but I can eat 2500-3000 calories a day and lose weight. I just have this insatiable appetite. I started weight watchers, did the math, and figured out they were recommending a 1000-1200 calorie diet. That's rediculous. I ate 2500-3000 calories a day and went from my high of 246 last Thanksgiving to 215 in three months. I didn't pay attention to how much I was eating before, but it makes me wonder, because it must have been in the 3500-4000 calories per day range.

At 215, the weight stopped coming off, and my appetite came back. I stayed at 220 for another three months, and I'm only just now forcing myself onto a diet again, in the hopes of getting back under 200 for the first time since 1998.

My body has adjusted my appetite to meet my high energy demands. I have a high metabolism, but without thinking about my diet, my body "wants" to be above 220 these days. What changed from high school, where my body "wanted" to be 195?

I strongly believe in set points, but I know that set points can be modified. How difficult it is to modify them, though, I can only speculate.

Melissa said at February 4, 2005 11:55 AM:

I don't believe in that fructose can lead to obesity. As is, I eat 10 servings of fruits for breakfast and I'm still considerbaly underweight (88lbs). It's just how you use that sugar taken in. People who consume too much and don't waste off the calories gain weight, but if you eat in the morning anyway it gets burned throughout the day. Plus you get more nutrients in fruits rather than empty calories, so I'd rather eat 3 servings of fruits rather than a bottle of pop (both contain about 250 calories).

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