Let’s take weight loss and look at it from different categorical thinking. I’m going to let my short analogies explain how the same thing can be looked at in so many different ways. Hopefully this will give you an idea of why it’s not wise to look at a problem through a single set of goggles.
The physicist would look at weight loss in the realm of energy because with his knowledge and experience, that’s the subject he’s most familiar with. He can’t look into other categories if he’s not familiar with them. It’s outside the realm of his thinking.
So when asked about weight management, the physicist will tell you it’s a balance of energy.
Energy cannot be created, nor destroyed, only transferred. So if you consume more energy than you burn, it can’t go anywhere based on that law of thermodynamics, so you’ll get fat. If you burn more energy than you consume, you’ll lose weight because your body is using the excess energy. So the physicist will tell you exercise more and eat less to lose weight. That makes sense based on the category he’s studied it from, right?
Now let’s look at the neurologist. The neurologist’s thinking of weight management comes from his category of study, just like the physicist’s came from his. The neurologist studies the brain, so his thinking is something like this. Let’s put people under a brain scan and flip fast images of food that are too fast for us to consciously detect, but can be detected by our subconscious (subliminal). What happens is that overweight people seem to have more of a reaction when the fattening foods are flashed.
The people who are thin have a much smaller response when the fatty foods are flashed in front of them. So what does the neurologist have to say about this? Ah, fat people have higher urges for eating fatty foods, so their brain dictates their choices. Put a fatty food and a healthy alternative and they’ll reach for the fatty food without thinking! Interesting way to look at it…….
Evolution is another category that’s worth briefly going over. An anthropologist’s take on weight management would come from his studies of diets over thousands of years. His/her conclusion might be that for most of human existence, we have lived in food scarcity.
With the abundance of food now, people can accidentally over eat, no wonder so many people are overweight. This is an interesting assumption as well.
A biologist would look at what’s going on in the body when approaching weight management. They look at what’s storing fat in our bodies and how the food we’re eating effect our hormones. Biologist will look at what hormones are responsible for storing fat and how our fat cells get bigger. So they do a feeding study and find out that elevated insulin leads to more fat being stored.
They eventually narrow down the macro nutrient responsible for stimulating insulin. Now if you manage or eliminate the macro nutrient responsible for this fat storing insulin, it seems the body releases the energy it’s been storing and the process is reversed.
Putting Everything Together
The best part about all this is that they’re all right. The physicist is right. The body does get fatter if it stores more energy than it uses, but the methods at which it does is not explained by the physicist’s theory alone. Hormones are responsible for partitioning energy. The more insulin we have circulating in our bodies, the more energy we store. Our bodies go into storage mode. Our energy levels end up dropping because our body WANTS to store the extra energy. Now eliminate insulin and our bodies begin to want to use the energy that it has stored and we’re suddenly have a higher output of energy.
Evolution plays a role here as well. The newest food to the modern human diet have been fast digesting, refined carbohydrates. Stuff like bread, sugar, soda, etc. Go back 10,000 years and much of these obesity related illnesses were non-existent.
The brain has a lot to do with what we ultimately decide to eat. Some people have a harder time restricting the foods that make them fat from their diet. If they identify themselves as one of these people, it’s a good idea to make some lifestyle changes that complement that. These changes can be removing all junk food from the house (yes, even if your kids cry), researching new recipes, and finding a dieting partner. Some people can effortlessly ignore certain food, some cannot. It’s good to know where you stand.
Most experts are aware of this, but as you can see, categorical thinking can lead people to premature conclusions. It’s easy for people to habitually make assumption based mostly on the area they have the most information in. For proper problem solving, the big picture has to be looked at.