Verification subject: Is livestock food the main cause of obesity?


Seoul National University Emeritus Professor

Obesity is caused by excessive consumption of carbohydrates.

Livestock food, involved in the formation of a healthy body shape

For a long time, people have thought that eating meat makes you fat. This idea stems from the fact that since the early 1960s, Dr. Ensal Keith, an American nutritional physiologist, asserted the harmfulness of livestock food, recommended universities and government agencies to reduce the intake of livestock food, and suggested a carbohydrate-centered diet as an alternative. In this fact check, we want to verify whether livestock food can be regarded as the main cause of obesity.

Verification content

1. Fat absorbed from the digestive system through consumption of livestock food does not stimulate insulin secretion as much as carbohydrates, and is mainly involved in forming a healthy body shape.

Fat in our body can be broadly divided into subcutaneous fat under the skin and visceral fat in the abdominal cavity. Fat consumed through livestock food usually goes to subcutaneous fat and contributes to body shape, which should be understood separately from the accumulation of visceral fat that causes obesity. Adequate amounts of subcutaneous fat play a role in conserving heat and storing nutrients in the body, so it has little to do with obesity or other diseases. On the other hand, visceral fat located between organs is mainly produced from carbohydrate intake, and excessive accumulation can cause problems with the heart and blood vessels.

2. In recent large-scale clinical studies and epidemiological studies, it was found that the main cause of obesity was not from animal fat, but from excessive carbohydrate intake.

Avoidance of consumption of animal products such as livestock food will eventually lead to excessive carbohydrate intake. The problem is that when carbohydrate intake increases, blood glucose, which is not consumed as energy in the body, results in the storage of excess sugar as fat by various factors including insulin. The fat formed by conversion from carbohydrates is mainly stored in the form of visceral fat in the abdominal cavity, and as a result, the possibility of obesity and metabolic diseases is increased.

Many statistics and studies have already proven the correlation between carbohydrates and obesity. For example, after 1980, when the USDA proposed a diet that reduced the intake of red meat, which is an animal food, carbohydrate intake increased.

3. The cause of obesity is the result of multiple factors, and livestock food cannot be said to be the main cause.

Obesity is a result of excessive intake of nutrients in the form of triglycerides accumulated in the intestines and subcutaneous fat tissue in the abdominal cavity when energy intake is greater than energy consumed. Studies of obesity genes or visceral obesity show that ‘excessive intake’ of nutrients is not limited to livestock foods. For example, if you look at the eating habits of modern people, not only carbohydrates consumed during meals, but also excessive carbohydrate intake through favorite foods and beverages, lifestyle habits lacking in exercise, late night eating, alcohol, and stress are pointed out as major causes of obesity. In short, obesity is not just livestock food, but can be solved when we improve our diet or eating habits at a more fundamental level.

Verification result

Livestock food cannot be said to be the main cause of obesity.

Obesity is one of the diseases that require attention in that it causes an inflammatory response and can eventually lead to cancer and other adult diseases. However, the idea that eating high-fat foods such as livestock foods makes you gain weight is a misjudgment that comes from an error of perception. Rather, you should pay more attention to eating habits that consume excessive carbohydrates. Proportion is important.

verification material

CDC National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011

Lam, T.K., et al., Brain glucose metabolism controls the hepatic secretion of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, Nature Medicine, 13(2): 171-180 (2007)

“Eat meat to prevent obesity and hair loss for a healthy diet” (Jungang Ilbo, September 9, 2019)

Livestock Newspaper, CHUKSANNEWS

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