Adolescents, vulnerable to obesity: Is it the fault of evolution?
The obesity in children and adolescents has been growing in recent years, and is one of the issues that most concern to both researchers and physicians and parents about the implications it may have for the health of the smallest of the house.
In general, there is talk of the lack of physical activity that young people maintain in this time in which computer screens and game consoles have replaced outdoor games, as well as a diet that is excessively rich in added sugars, guilty in good Part of the growing obesity of the population.
But what if evolution also had something to do with the rise in teenage obesity? A couple of new studies give us a little light (and more questions, inevitably) on this topic.
To begin to understand the study recently published in the International Journal of Obesity and carried out for 10 years, we must first take into account where the total caloric expenditure of a person comes throughout the day. On the one hand we have a “voluntary” caloric expenditure that takes place thanks to the physical and sports activity that we perform every day.
But the bulk of our total caloric expenditure (approximately 75%) is “involuntary” : that is, it corresponds to the functions our body performs only to keep itself alive and functioning (what we know as basal caloric expenditure ). The correct functioning of the brain or vital functions corresponds to this “involuntary” caloric expenditure.
Does evolution have anything to do with it?
The study has found that there are two times when children tend to gain weight : birth to 5 years of age (which affects mainly the offspring of obese parents) and adolescence (affects Children in general).
During the study it was observed that the basal caloric expenditure of children between 0 and 15 years old suffered a significant decrease, up to 25%, to rise again at around 16 years. Why is this happening?
The possible reason they handle in the study is that it may be an adaptation of our body thousands of years ago. When humans were hunter-gatherers it was not possible to insure a quantity of food necessary for the correct development of our body during adolescence and in the passage to maturity. As a solution, it is possible for our body to adapt to reserve calories that would ensure the energy needed to develop properly during our puberty.
Thus, the body would enter into a state of “energy reserve” lowering its basal metabolism, and this would ensure that you have available energy in the event you do not have enough food.
What happens today?
The “problem” is that in our day we do not have to worry about going hunting or gathering food beyond the supermarket . In the case of children and adolescents in general do not have to go beyond the refrigerator. Is it possible that our body has maintained this “safety mechanism” by lowering its basal metabolism during the adolescent years even though we have food available within our reach?
As a solution to this situation we must put special care in the feeding of children and adolescents : if this decrease of the basal metabolic rate really occurs, a diet based on ultra processed products can be a time bomb that multiplies the chances of becoming adults Obese or overweight.
A food-based diet, avoiding processed products, and encouraging good eating habits from the earliest years of life is a good starting point to fight against this situation.