Processed foods increasing obesity

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Australia (Commonwealth Union) – Protein plays a significant role in our diet, and just about every cell in our body contains it. Protein has often been known to play an important role in reducing hunger and new research has shed more light on this factor.

Modern cravings for highly processed and refined foods, instead of a protein-rich diet, is a significant contributor to increased obesity rates in the Western world according to the study. The year-long research of the eating habits of 9,341 Australians supports increasing evidence that highly processed and refined foods are the main contributor to increasing obesity rates.

The new study, conducted by the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre (CPC) and published in the journal Obesity, was based on a national nutrition and physical activity survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, giving more support to the ‘Protein Leverage Hypothesis’.

In 2005 professors Raubenheimer and Stephen Simpson initiated the Protein Leverage Hypothesis suggesting that overconsuming fats and carbohydrates due to the body’s strong appetite for protein, which the body actively favors instead of others. As most modern diets contain highly processed and refined foods, low in protein and individuals are driven to consume larger amounts of energy-dense foods till they meet their protein demand.

Dr Amanda Grech, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the CPC and the university’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences who was the lead author explained: “As people consume more junk foods or highly processed and refined foods, they dilute their dietary protein and increase their risk of being overweight and obese, which we know increases the risk of chronic disease.”

“It’s increasingly clear that our bodies eat to satisfy a protein target,” said Professor David Raubenheimer, the Leonard Ullmann Chair in Nutritional Ecology at the School of Life and Environmental Sciences.

The findings are likely to be of key interest for weight watchers.

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