Smorgasbord Health Column – Health in the New – Obesity Research – Fat Accumulation Table by Sally Cronin

I probably wrote most of the excuses for my life threatening obesity in my 30s and 40s in my quest to blame anything and everything other than myself.

“It must be my genes” is one of the favourite excuses, and certainly used by many of my clients over the years. Unfortunately, whilst there may be a small proportion of people who do have a real genetic reason for their ability to put on weight, it is not applicable to the majority.

I originally lost 11 stone or 154lbs 22 years ago and there have been times when that weight has drifted back by a couple of stones, it is usually because I have also drifted back into bad habits.

There is no doubt that age and lack of activity do count for some of it. Our body’s systems are not as efficient, and we still feel we can get away with eating the same way we did 30 years ago. Provided you are still very active, that may well be the case, but you still need to keep an eye on the amount of food you are consuming.

Eating a diet that is fresh and cooked from scratch is a great start, but unfortunately even the finest of fresh meats and whole grains still contain calories.

However many ‘fad’ diets there are littering the Internet, you cannot get away from the fact that if you eat more than you expend in energy…. you put weight on.

I don’t believe in giving up any food group that supplies the wide variety of nutrients the body needs to be healthy.

But, you can have too much of a good thing.

You cannot eat unlimited healthy fats and not put on weight. You only need a moderate amount to achieve the nutritional benefits, and the same applies to wholegrain carbohydrates which are so essential for our energy levels.

You have to find the balance, as I have as I have become less active. Portion control is a pain, but it means that you can eat all the foods you enjoy but just less of them.

I have found Intermittent Fasting to suit me best, and eat between 11.00 or midday – to 7.00 or 8.00 pm. every day. I do have a glass of coconut water and tea first thing, which is not strictly within the guidelines, but does not seem to impact the end result.  I eat a good lunch but only have a light supper at night and always make sure that I leave three hours before going to bed. The digestive process for a light meal is complete, and I sleep a great deal better.

The health benefits to me, besides helping me get back down to my optimum weight is that I am not on any medication and my BP, Blood Sugar and Cholesterol are balanced.

This does not suit everyone… if you have an active job or lifestyle, you need to start the day with a good breakfast. The key is to find what suits you, gives you the nutritional requirements your body needs to do the job you demand of it, and maintains a healthy weight and fully functioning immune system.

The magic bullet for treating obesity is like the holy grail, and billions have been spent on finding a short cut to reducing people’s weight. Gastric bands, fasting, fat busters, diet shakes and sometimes harmful diet pills and potions.

At the end of the day slimming clubs are probably the most effective as they limit your intake of less healthy food, and instil willpower which works for many of their members.

At the end of the day, if you are overweight then you are doing yourself harm. Some may like to assure you, that you can still be fit and be severely overweight, but it is not the fat that you can see is the problem. It is the fat around your major organs, such as the heart that are dangerous.

I have written several series on healthy weight loss and will repeat them from time to time. However, one of the most effective weight loss tools that I put together for myself and my clients all those years ago was this table.

It shows you the accumulative factor of having two or more portions of particular foods regularly on your weight.  In most cases, simply halving the quantity of that food will achieve your healthy weight in a matter of months and perhaps in some cases a year.

It is important to remember that 1lb of fat lost a week is 52lbs/24kilo in a year which is usually what most people are looking to achieve. At the recommended weight loss of 2lbs per week that is 104lbs/ 48kilo in a year.

Take a look at the foods in the table and see if there are some that you are eating a little too much of. And if your favourite daily snack is not on the list… check out the calories and multiply by 365 and then divide by 3,500 (equivalent to 1lb of body fat) and see how much weight you could lose by halving the amount you eat over the year.

Obviously weight loss is assisted when you combine sensible portion control with some moderate exercise too.

A brisk mile walk a day accumulates to 36,500 calories per year or in body fat terms 10lbs.


Here are some of the recent studies on obesity.

Effect of genetic factors on nutrition: The genes are not to blame

Individualized dietary recommendations based on genetic information are currently a popular trend. A team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has systematically analyzed scientific articles and reached the following conclusion: There is no clear evidence for the effect of genetic factors on the consumption of total calories, carbohydrates, and fat. According to the current state of knowledge, the expedience of gene-based dietary recommendations has yet to be proven.

Overweight and obesity have become a global health problem. According to the World Health Organization, 39 percent of adults in EU countries have overweight. In Germany more than 50 percent of adults suffer from overweight, almost one fifth is according to the Robert Koch Institute currently considered obese. This is primarily due to the modern lifestyle which is characterized by low physical activity and high-calorie foods.

Also genetic factors play a role in the occurrence of obesity. To date, around a hundred genes (loci) have been identified which are related to the body mass index (BMI). However, the functioning of these genes as well as the biological mechanisms behind them are still largely unknown. The investigation of the relationship between genetic factors and nutrition can shed light on whether the genes which are linked to BMI play a role in nutrition.

You can read the rest of the report on how research is failing to implicate genes in the global obesity epidemic: Science Daily – Genes link to obesity.


Intermittent fasting has been gaining popularity among people looking to shed extra kilograms and maintain a healthy weight. Researchers argue that this type of diet may also slow down aging and disease.

In intermittent fasting, what essentially takes place in the body is that one source of energy — which can facilitate the accumulation of body fat — is switched for another.

Our bodies run on glucose, or simple sugar, but when we fast for a longer period of time, that energy source becomes unavailable.

Our system needs to identify a different kind of “fuel.” That is when the body begins to convert certain types of body fat into fatty acids, which are easily absorbed by the blood.

Fatty acids, in turn, produce molecules called ketones, which the body uses as its new source of energy.

Stephen Anton, a researcher at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville, calls this process “flipping the metabolic switch.”

“This switch,” explains Anton, “can happen after a certain period of time fasting. It’s a gradation in which your metabolism over time shifts to use higher and higher amounts of ketones for energy.”

He and his team were interested to learn more about how this switch occurs, and whether it could bring other health benefits, alongside weight management.

For this purpose, they reviewed numerous recent studies focused on the mechanisms and benefits of intermittent fasting.

The team’s review, published in the journal Obesity, suggests that intermittent fasting may be more healthful than other dieting strategies, as ketones put less stress on cells than the byproducts of other dieting styles.

Significant weight loss regardless of style 

Read more about the research and its conclusions: Medical News Today – Intermittent Fasting


Half of Britons will be obese by 2045 if current trends are not halted, according to new forecasts.

Experts said that without radical action the NHS will be “overwhelmed” – with one in eight suffering from type 2 diabetes.

The condition already costs the health service around £10 billion annually.

Almost one in three British adults are now estimated to be obese, according to the study. by University College London and pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk.

And if trends continue, 48 per cent of adults will be classed as obese by 2045.

The figure is more than double the forecast global average of 22 per cent, with the US the only developed country predicted to fare worse, reaching 55 per cent.

Around 10 per cent of adults in the UK already have type two diabetes, which is closely linked to excess weight. And the data presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna suggests this will reach almost 13 per cent by 2045.

Read the rest of the article: Telegraph – Obesity forecast.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from

And Amazon UK:

I would love to connect to you on social media.

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You can find all my health posts this year in the directory:

I hope this has given you something to think about, not just in relation to your own health but that of your family. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask. Thanks Sally.

Size Matters Serialisation – Chapter Two – A Good Place to Start.

Here is chapter two of my journey from being morbidly obese at 330lbs to a healthier weight. I want to make clear that I am not some perfect role model for weight loss.  I can fall off the wagon as quick as a flash given the opportunity and for me it is a lifetime’s challenge to stay within a healthy weight range. Now I am in my 60s it is tempting to slack off but sharing this with you also helps me.  By remembering where I was and reminding me how much I hated being that weight.


A Good Place to Start

The majority of the diets that I attempted in my adult life were one-dimensional. By this I mean that the diet generally gave the dieter a list of foods to eat and the ‘right’ amount of calories, regardless of age, sex or level of activity. Little effort was spent in analysing the reasons for the obesity.

Having been repeatedly unsuccessful in my previous attempts at dieting, it was obvious that I needed a new approach, to ensure that this would be the last time I would put my body – and mind – through such intense stress.

So, I decided to approach the weight loss from a completely different perspective and from as many angles as possible. This new concept meant looking at the mental, physical and emotional reasons for the weight gain in the first place: a three-dimensional approach.

Obesity is the symptom, but the root causes are not generally immediately apparent. In fact, there are a number of different factors which play a part.

Picture this.

It is 11.30 p.m. at night. I am pacing the floor of our lounge, car keys clenched in my fist. Since 6 p.m. I have eaten a large dish of spaghetti, three chocolate bars, a tub of rich ice cream and the re-heated remains of a take-away from the night before. There is nothing left in the refrigerator or cupboards. I am desperate for something more to eat – something sweet.

The garage down the road closes at midnight. If I can just hang on another ten minutes, it will be too late to get there before it shuts. Part of me is fighting to go, throw a coat over my pyjamas and take my last opportunity to get some chocolate before the morning. Another part of me is fighting to stay, to keep away from the very thing that is causing me so much misery – the misery of being this gross person that I felt I had become. How on earth had I come to this point in my life? How on earth was I going to learn to live through this?

Over the last twenty years I have walked thousands of miles, so there has been plenty of time for reflection. When I began keeping a journal, it was to record my personal journey of discovery and enlightenment. Some of the events and feelings that I am sharing with you are very personal, the kind we do not usually reveal to strangers. The reason for this openness is to illustrate that there is usually a lifetime of accumulated baggage that makes up the person we are today. Good times and bad times are recorded and stored and replayed time and again, a bit like a stuck record. In the process, we can get caught up in a ‘poor me’ state of mind, where we blame our past and those who inhabit it, for our present.

Without being too analytical, I have tried to identify some of the factors that may have contributed to my attitude to eating and my attitude to my body. I very soon came to the realisation that I was carrying too many layers, in more ways than one!

I am going to ask you to travel with me for the next few pages and then complete your own journey. You need to establish where and when you might have unconsciously turned to food as an answer to your problems. Maybe you even developed a physical reason for your weight gain.

When you are looking for answers remember that you have to look inside yourself. You are the only person who knows what has really happened in your life. ‘Know thyself’ is a fundamental idea that has been around since the time of the ancient Greeks, and it important to remember this as you make your journey. Another famous saying is ‘You are what you eat’. Keep these two ideas in mind and they can help you to get to the root of the problem.

You will find a chart, in the actual programme (Annex 4 – Fat Accumulation Table), that will help you to ‘know thy food’ in a different way. It will help you to appreciate the cumulative effect of eating certain foods on a regular basis. The results show the long-term weight gain you would achieve by habitually eating some well-known foods. I like the cumulative approach because I feel that it really reflects how life works to help us to gain weight a little at a time, so you don’t really see it happening.

Everyday events, concerns, stress and worries also accumulate over time. Much like a snowball rolling down a hillside, we collect ‘layers’ which slow us down until we come to a stop at the bottom, pretty to look at, maybe, but it is impossible to tell what debris has been collected, along with the fresh layers of snow, during the journey.

Of course, not every layer that you add will be harmful. In my life I have accumulated many delightful memories of events and people. Humour has always been a great saving grace, especially during the hard times. On my journey, I discovered that what I really needed to learn about was the ‘dark side’. The side we very rarely show to other people, the side that governs many of our emotions – and the actions we take when we are in certain emotional states. Some people live in a world of balance. Others tend to live at the extremes of their abilities and senses. Extremes are important to an addict, and an addict is what I had become. I had developed an addiction to food, particularly to sugars, that was extreme compared to any normal consumption. Later, I will come back, in much more detail to the vital impact of sugars and how they can affect us and the way that we develop our eating habits.

The theories that I first developed all those years ago have become firm beliefs and in some cases confirmed by scientific research.

The next chapters look at the many mental and physical changes I experienced from an early age. It was only when I began writing about my life that I realised just how much I had forgotten, or put to the back of my mind. This gave me the opportunity to revisit some good times (and some confusing times as well) from the past that have shaped the person I have become today.

This is a record of my journey back to my past from a mental, physical and emotional point of view. It is a journey not lightly undertaken. When you make this journey yourself remember that it is important to try to be objective in order to learn how best to help yourself in the present. Many people have had traumatic experiences in their lives that may be hard to recall, so don’t hesitate to seek help from a counsellor, for guidance through this process of exploration, if you feel at all nervous about the process.

I see myself as an intelligent, imaginative person, with a sense of humour, keen to try new experiences. Using these assets, I have tried to look back over the years in order to identify the patterns that might have led to the sort of compulsive eating that had engulfed me.

The first place I chose to start, logically, was my childhood.

fat accumulation table

In a post recently I featured the Fat Accumulation Table and here it is again for those of you who might have missed it. Most of us have little rituals associated with some of the food that we eat. And we will often attach one or two foods together. For example Tea and two biscuits. Coffee and a Danish. When I smoked I could not drink a cup of tea without having a cigarette at the same time. Once you have developed that ritual it is very difficult to break. However, when you next time say to people ‘If only I could lose that last 10lbs!’ Take a look at your rituals and it may well be that having two biscuits with your cup of tea instead of just one might make all the difference.

Next time Chapter Three and some of the triggers from my childhood that encouraged me to turn to food as a coping mechanism.

Here is the Introduction and Chapter One.

Please feel free to share with anyone who might find my story useful to their own struggle with weight.