A scary title about women getting fatter faster than men in the WaPo raises a question that the article itself does not venture to answer: WHY?
The article throws around a bunch of statistics and it’s well worth it for the wellness communities to study.
But I would propose that maybe it’s because we have yet to fully convey the meaning of ‘fat’ and its ubiquitous role in weight gain theory over the past 60 years.
Despite more recent evidence that has been included in new federal guidelines for healthy nutrition, the American mindset is still misunderstanding when it comes to ‘fat’.
I’m not going to try to change that mindset in one post but let me start by elucidating what fat is: it’s a molecule that stores energy very efficiently. That’s about as simple as it gets.
And it comes in a variety of options – saturated, unsaturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans – in edible forms.
To the extent we as humans store excess calories as fat, however, fat is merely a storage depot of those excess calories to be tapped for when food is scarce or when we have to be physically active for very long periods of time. This kind of fat, unless you are a cannibal, is primarily saturated but who really cares, right?
The problem at hand is that we as a nation and civilization and maybe even a species are getting fatter, and now this new data shows it may be more of a concern among women. The truth is, women, in our society, have always been more concerned and conscientious about being ‘fat’. There are millions of reasons for this that I’m not going to get into.
What I want to emphasize is that, as students of diet, women are savvier than men…and yet, more prone to misconceptions about fat and ‘fat-ness’ itself. Thus their confusion is exacerbated by mass media presentations of diet, dieting, and fat in particular.
Thus, let me propose the following: we eat and cook with fat but we become overweight or obese, not fat. We are muscle, bone, and blood, etc.
And what we eat, in and of itself, is not sufficient to change our bodies into that which we eat.
In other words, if you eat protein you don’t automatically become muscular; if you eat a lot of carbs you don’t necessarily become a cake; and if you eat fats you don’t necessarily become fat!