Here is a question for the ages: If you are on a diet created by a man who is not on board with some of the health initiatives of an administration you support, do you remain on that diet? Silly question? Perhaps, but it is one that Barack Obama supporters and Zone Diet followers such as Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore, and Sarah Jessica Parker currently face.
Dr. Barry Sears, biochemist and creator of The Zone Diet, says the message that first lady Michelle Obama is pushing with her anti-obesity campaign is ineffective and will provide little benefit for the country’s growing obesity problem.
According to Sears, Michelle Obama’s approach, encouraging the nation’s youth to eat less and exercise more, is doomed to failure because America’s obesity problem is much more intricate. That complexity, he says, is best boiled down to an increase in the country’s intake of omega-6 fatty acids and a decrease in the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids.
“The problem really comes from radical changes, almost like a gigantic genetic experiment that started some thirty years ago when we basically started increasing the levels of omega-6 fatty acids in the American diet and with that we unleashed a Pandora’s box of increased inflammation that is making our population fatter, sicker and dumber,” Sears told The Daily Caller.
Before your eyes roll into the back of you head with the explanation of a biochemist who dares to use scientific language when talking to laymen, Sears explains that omega-6 fatty acids are found in common vegetable oils, such as corn oil and soybean oil. Unfortunately, these are some of the most ubiquitous ingredients in the food supply today — virtually every processed food in the supermarket aisle contains omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in food such as fish oils, walnuts, and spinach.
While omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation. “You need a balance,” Sears said, “and the balance at the turn of the century was about one-to-one — that’s a good balance. Today it is about twenty-to-one. And as a consequence what’s happening is this increased inflammation is turning on genes that are simply making our children fatter.”
Sears says that until the country gets these inflammatory genes, triggered by omega-6 fatty acids, under control, no amount of exercise will help. “We have a situation where data shows that if I exercise more there is no change in weight, in fact some people who exercise more actually gain weight because they get hungrier,” he said. Compounding the problem, America’s intake of omega-3 fatty acids have decreased by an estimated 90 percent, according to Sears.
This is no kooky idea. In a recent lab study, generations of mice were fed an omega-6 heavy and omega-3 low diet and over generations their levels of fat increased.
“To perform their experiments, the researchers exposed four generations of mice to a Western-style diet, characterized by these same omega-6/omega-3 ratios. As a result, they saw a gradual increase in fat mass over several generations. They also observed the onset of metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance, which is the first step in the development of type 2 diabetes and a stimulation of the expression of the inflammatory genes involved in obesity,” the study reads.
NEXT: How to solve the fat problem
Sears sees two options to solve the fat problem. The first being to reduce the amount of omega-6 fatty acids in our diets. According to Sears, this is a proposition easier said than done. “That is the cornerstone of agri-business, and in fact as tax payers we are spending $20 billion a year to subsidize the exact food ingredients which are making us more inflamed,” he said.
Option two, Sears says, is to return to the days when mothers forced their children to eat a tablespoon of cod-liver oil a day. “That was one of the greatest health care disasters in the twentieth century — was the day parents stopped giving their children fish oil,” Sears lamented. “That awful tablespoon of cod-liver oil contains about 2.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, and that is enough to turn back the inflammatory tide.”