TV plus snacks can seriously add to flab

Obese people spend many hours in front of the television screen munching on snacks both fattening and lacking in nutrients. For overweight individuals, the greatest problem may not be so much the amounts they eat as what they eat. The average caloric intake by the 341 overweight patients that attended the Department of Obesity, Nutrition, Metabolism and Endocrinology at Hygeia Hospital was 2,785 in men and 2,200 in women; not much greater than the recommended daily allowance. But 45 percent of both the men’s and women’s diets consisted of fat, though fat intake should be no higher than 30-35 percent. In contrast, carbohydrates like pulses, salads, grains, fruit and bread accounted for just 36 percent of the men’s diets and 38.8 percent of the women’s, when the percentage of carbohydrates in our diet should be 55. «That means,» pathologist and nutritionist Giorgos Panotopoulos told Kathimerini, «that in reality we don’t eat a lot, but we eat badly. We haven’t yet realized that it’s not pasta that makes us fat, but the sauce we put on it. It’s not bread that we need to cut, but our habit of dipping it into oil and sauces.» At the same time, obese individuals’ average television viewing hours (a total of 253 people were examined, with an average age of 42) was 16 hours a week. Twenty-three percent in fact watched television more than 21 hours a week; they were the heaviest and had the largest percentage of bodily and abdominal fat. Sixty-five percent consumed snacks in front of the television, usually products with a very high fat content and no nutritional value whatsoever. Another 55 percent engaged in no physical exercise at all.