The Origin of Overweight

  • Why is it so easy to gain weight and yet so difficult to lose it?
  • Why is extra weight so bad for your health if it is just a store of energy?
  • Why is obesity higher among the rich in poor countries and among the poor in rich countries?
  • Why is the prevalence of obesity particularly high in island nations?
  • What can we all do immediately (whatever our size) to improve our health and prevent weight gain?

The Origin of Overweight explores the link between vitamin D and body weight.  Written by a biologist, this meticulously-researched book is packed with information, but written in a down to earth style that is easy to follow. It shows why a deep understanding of biology and ecology is necessary to deal with the problem of overweight and obesity, and why our current obsession with the usual suspects of food, drink, diet and exercise is having little effect on the obesity epidemic.

The first part of the book reveals how vitamin D deficiency has become a widespread and severe epidemic—recognised by vitamin D scientists but overlooked by public health authorities—and how it could be linked to climate change.

The second part explores the biological purpose of overweight and the processes that should keep our weight tightly controlled. Only with awareness of the biological control of weight can we start to understand why we gain weight and why it can be so difficult to lose weight.

The third part of the book weaves the two strands together. Vitamin D can be understood as an ancient signal to indicate the strength of sunlight. As it declines, body weight is increased to cope with the ensuing winter conditions. This new theory is used to explain many aspects of overweight, such as its regional, population and individual disparities, and how metabolic changes, such as insulin resistance and high blood pressure, can be understood as adjustments that help us to survive low temperatures.

Finally, the last chapter outlines a strategy to reverse vitamin D deficiency and to move away from the narrow focus on energy balance so as to deal with overweight more effectively.