breaking latest news – The predominant approach to the obesity problem is based on the energy balance model which states that weight gain is caused by consuming more energy than we consume. Weight loss, according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 – 2025, “requires adults to reduce the number of calories ingested from food and drink and increase the amount expended through physical activity.”
Yet despite decades of public health messages urging people to eat less and exercise more, the rates of obesity and obesity-related diseases have steadily increased. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity affects more than 40 percent of American adults, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
The authors of “The Carbohydrate-Insulin Model: A Physiological Perspective on the Obesity Pandemic”, a perspective published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, point to the fundamental flaws of the energy balance model, arguing that an alternative model, the carbohydrate- insulin, best explains obesity and weight gain. Furthermore, the carbohydrate-insulin model points the way to more effective and lasting weight management strategies.
According to lead author David Ludwig, an endocrinologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School, the energy balance model does not help us understand the biological causes of weight gain. The adoption of the carbohydrate-insulin model over the energy balance model has fundamental consequences for weight management and the treatment of obesity.
Rather than pushing people to eat less, a strategy that doesn’t usually work in the long run, the carbohydrate-insulin model suggests another path that focuses more on what we eat..
According to Dr. Ludwig, “reducing the consumption of rapidly digestible carbohydrates reduces the urge to store body fat. As a result, people can lose weight with less hunger and fatigue.” (
In contrast to the energy balance model, the carbohydrate-insulin model starts with a bold statement: overeating is not the main cause of obesity. In contrast, the carbohydrate-insulin model places much of the blame for the current obesity epidemic on modern dietary patterns characterized by excessive consumption of high-glycemic-loaded foods: in particular, processed and rapidly digestible carbohydrates.
These foods cause hormonal responses that radically change our metabolism, leading to fat storage, weight gain and obesity. When we eat highly refined carbohydrates, the body increases insulin secretion and suppresses glucagon secretion. This, in turn, signals fat cells to store more calories, leaving fewer calories available to fuel muscles and other metabolically active tissues.
The brain perceives that the body is not receiving enough energy, which, in turn, leads to feelings of hunger. Also, the metabolism can slow down as the body tries to save fuel. Therefore, we tend to stay hungry, even as we continue to gain excess fat.
To understand the obesity epidemic, we need to consider not only how much we are eating, but also how the foods we eat affect our hormones and metabolism. Although the carbohydrate-insulin model is not new, its origins date back to the early 1900s. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition perspective is the most comprehensive formulation of this model to date, created by a team of 17 internationally recognized scientists, clinical researchers and public health experts.
Together they gathered the most evidence to support the carbohydrate-insulin model. Additionally, the authors identified a number of testable hypotheses that distinguish the two models to guide future research. The authors acknowledge that more research is needed to decide the greater efficacy of both models and, perhaps, to generate new models that better fit the evidence. To this end, they are calling for collaboration between scientists with different points of view to lead in rigorous and impartial research on the fight against obesity.