Researchers have studied a hunter-gatherer tribe, the Hazdas, and have discovered that despite much higher levels of activity compared to Western lifestyles, the Hazdas’ metabolic rate is identical to ours. Even after corrections for height and weight, all Hazda men and women aged 18 to 75 burn calories at the same rate of people in the West.
This has shone a bright light on the importance of diet, especially when it comes to portion size. According to one of the chief researchers, Dr. Pontzer,
This to me says that the big reason that Westerners are getting fat is because we eat too much – it’s not because we exercise too little. Being active is really important to your health but it won’t keep you thin – we need to eat less to do that.
Energy expenditure happens to be nearly identical across the physiological board. Exercise is important, but the most important aspect of health is diet and portion size. Obesity is rampant in the world, so widespread that there are now more people dying from being overweight than there are people starving. It is time to pull the fork out of our mouths and enjoy life without stuffing our faces with a snack every five minutes. The health benefits of low calorie diets and even controlled fasting are life changing. We must pay closer attention to what we are eating if we are to have any hope of living truly happy and healthy lives.