The escalating cases of obesity today may actually be traced to the history of sugar consumption, according to an article published in June in the Chilliwack Beacon News. Written by Dr. Paul Martiquet, Rural Vancouver Coastal Health’s medical health officer, the article cites a BBC report suggesting that obesity could have started in the 1960s, when people found a cheaper alternative to traditional sugars.
Obesity, which has become a global concern, is a condition characterized by excessive body fat, which may potentially cause severe health problems. In Chilliwack, BC, 19,484 residents are reportedly overweight, based on the recent study by the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), and public awareness on healthier living is being beefed up. Residents are encouraged to join a fully-equipped Chilliwack gym such as She’s Fit! to shed those excess pounds.
Exercise won’t be enough, though; overweight people have to rethink what they eat. Before the ’60s, in the wake of two world wars, food had been scarce, leading people to consume less. During the decade, however, food producers began to tap high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a cheaper alternative sweetener from corn waste, to make bread, meat, pizza, pastry, and soda.
Since HFCS was affordable, people consumed bigger portions of food that contain the sugar substitute. It eventually became the principal sweetener for processed foods and beverages. Dr. Martiquet says the increased consumption of HFCS coincided with the growing number of people with obesity problems, as evidenced by the difference in average weight of British citizens now and 50 years ago; it’s 19kg heavier today.
The article states that HFCS is a more dangerous sweetening agent than traditional sucrose because it contains more of the fructose component of sugar. Fructose breaks down easily into fat and suppresses the hormone leptin, which is supposed to tell the brain the body has had enough. The role of sugar in weight gain, however, was overshadowed by the focus on fat—and the introduction of low-fat foods further increased people’s consumption of high-sugar foods.
This high-sugar diet is contributory to obesity, and in BC, already 25 percent of residents are obese, CCHS reveals. Fitness centers have opened all over BC to support government efforts to get its citizens to eat better and exercise more. Centers like She’s Fit! have also designed programs to help women accomplish their fitness goals, recognizing that the latter have a higher tendency to become obese than men.
Despite BC’s relatively lower obesity rate, the condition has become the most formidable health concern in Chilliwack and other cities. Joining a health club in Chilliwack, therefore, will be a smart move and will eventually pay dividends for the member, in various measures of health and fitness.