Do "Fat" People Really Eat That Much Differently than "Thin" People?

Updated on August 29, 2012
B.B. asks from Bedminster, NJ
39 answers

Not that I watch what people eat or put in their carts all the time, but it seems like in public at least, everyone eats pretty much the same. My sister in law used to sneak food to her room after dinner and she became morbidly obese but that is really the only experience I have had with someone with that size. People in my family are all different sizes and they seem to eat pretty much the same types of food and portions. I have seen studies that heavy people often underestimate what they eat and certainly exercise and age play a role. What do you think?

When I am at parties, it is usuallly the thin people who are eating and enjoying themselves. Are the heavier people just self-concious? And at places like McDonald's, I rarely see the stereotype of the fatso eating a supersize meal. It is usually typically sized people there with their kids. But I also know that my SIL and BIL (both mordidly obese) get a lot of takeout and rarely cook at home. She also baked everyday when they first got married and they both put on tons of weight. Do heavy people purposely pay attention to what they eat in public to make themselves look "better".

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your honest answers. From the responses, this is not a yes or no question. From what I can gather, yes, in most cases, extremely overweight or obese people do eat too much food. Sometimes it's "healthy" food, other times it's not. When you see someone, you can't automatically know what they eat or how they eat. All I know if that pretty much everyone can improve their health, no matter what their weight. And do I agree that stress plays a role in people's weight for sure.

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answers from Washington DC on

Okay.. From a fat girl with A. eating disorder my perspective is yes, heavier people sometimes consume more calories per meal than do thinner people due to the size of their stomachs. That beings said, this question has so many variables such as genetics. Some thin people can eat as much as a larger person and while they do not gain weight throughout their body they will have heart problems and such due to the poor diet.
On the other hand, some heavier people (like me) eat very little and still can not lose weight without a lot of heavy exercise due to metabolic reasons/damage.
yes/no really.
ETA: You must not be looking hard enough. There has been plenty of times I have seen a very large person eating a very large meal.
And yes: I typically would not eat a piece of cake in public because I would think people were thinking," Look at that fat girl eating cake, she does not need to be eating that!" why are people so judgmental? Some people are addicted to food and they are ashamed of it, who is not ashamed of A. addiction?

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answers from Los Angeles on

As some one who has always struggled with 10 vanity lbs, I am going to say I've been an observer of this more than half my life. Thin people have a mechanisms that tells them to stop eating sooner. They may even have a reputation for being big eaters because in a social setting with good food, they may from time to time put it away (my husband is like this (165 lbs) , but really, the man is a bastion of moderation and rarely overeats. His reputation is undeserved). But its not the occasional overindulgence, its the daily tendency. They don't clean their plates, when they stop, they really stop, they don't continue to nibble. They are not big snackers. They enjoy their treats, but don't go looking for them all the time. Also considering the average American woman consumes 700 calories more per day than she thinks she does, I can see where we get a little delusional. That said, there are always exceptions, but I think its a small percentage. In my observation, overweight people consume more calories.

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answers from Tulsa on

I know I eat more than the suggested amount. I don't like to eat at parties because people watch fat people.

6 moms found this helpful

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answers from Los Angeles on

I have battled with my weight all my life. At first it was because of teasing by my dad and brother that I thought I was too fat. (I got married with a 28" waist and a 42 " chest.)

Then when I was older I gained weight. About 10 years ago I heard a sermon from the pulpit that talked about emulating those that were righteous and successful at what you want to accomplish. And all at once it dawned on me that I should watch skinny people and what they ate and how much they ate.

What I learned is that skinny people simply ate less than I did. My boss' boss was a very skinny lady. I happened to sit by her at an awards banquet. We all got to order what we wanted. She and I happened to order the same thing. When we had finished and the waiters were taking up the plates, I looked at her plate and it didn't look like she had eaten anything. I had finished everything on my plate. I almost said, "You didn't eat enough to keep a bird alive." Then it came to me. She didn't eat enough to keep a 250 lb man at 250 lbs. She ate enough to keep a 120 lb woman at 120 lbs.

Since then I have observed many fat people and skinny people eat and what they ordered if they were at a restaurant. Skinny people have a diet coke. Fat people have a milkshake (or two). Skinny people eat half their meal. Fat people eat all they are brought.

I am still fighting my weight, but I have lost 26 lbs since March. I hope to loose another 20 or so pounds before Thanksgiving.

A friend of mine lost 40 lbs. He said he went and bought some 8" plates. He only eats off an 8" plate while his family uses the 10" plates. He puts all he wants on the 8" plates and doesn't go back for seconds.

The body is like a bank account. The more you put into it the bigger it gets.

Good luck to you and yours.

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answers from Albuquerque on

Yes, absolutely. Even if we don't notice that heavier people are eating more, they are. It takes more calories per day to maintain a large body than a small one... and most heavy people do not have a metabolic problem. They're simply taking in more calories than they're expending.

Here's an example. In my group of friends, we have a range of sizes, from the two women who are size 0s up to a few who wear a 12/14. When we get together for playdates, the skinny ladies take a bite or two of the snacks that are set out and then wander away. They're just not all that interested, or hungry. The medium sized women take three or four cheese cubes at a time and come back to the table once or twice. The two heavier ladies spend a longer time at the table snacking, and they're the ones dunking the carrot sticks in dip or spreading cheese on their crackers.

I started noticing this about a year ago and have been watching ever since. So yeah - I'm absolutely convinced that heavier people eat more than skinny ones. Even if it's just a few bites here or there, it adds up. Cream in the coffee = 100 calories. Four bites of a kid's waffle, 30 calories. An extra tablespoon of mayo on a sandwich = 100 calories. Ten more chips with lunch = 70 calories. Dip and spreadable cheese at the playdate = 400 calories. Five bites of dinner while it's cooking = 70 calories. Finishing your kid's cookie after dinner = 40 calories. None of that looks like a lot at the time, but add it up and you've just ingested 810 extra calories than your skinny friend. And that's not even looking at things like soda and chocolate!

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answers from Detroit on

Parties and special occasions I eat like its going out of style. During the week and on a regular basis I track what I eat.
I do believe there are medical situations that can prevent people from being able to lose weight like other people.
But, in most cases, the calories you consume maintains your weight. If your big, your eating those calories somehow, somewhere.

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answers from New York on

In addition to diet, exercise and metabolism, don't discount stress. Some people put on and retain weight under stress, others waste away.

Sometimes you've got to have your head in the right place to allow for a healthy physique.

Good question.
F. B.

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answers from Seattle on

I am morbidly obese. sigh. I ABSOLUTELY eat differently in public so looky loos wont stare, point, and talk about me.
I eat normal meals just like my thin counterparts....but I snack, badly, like a fiend.
It's my fault, I am working on it!! If you were to look in my grocery cart it is "usually" full of fruits, veggies, meats, and cereal. I have 3 kids that I want to be healthy and they are. No one is even slightly heavy. Wish I took the time to take care of myself like I take care of them.

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answers from Dallas on

I think I read somewhere, that for a 300 pound person to maintain their weight, they have to eat 3,000-4,500 calories a day. (google that, if you want to verify!) I don't think you will find any thin people (unless they are athletes) eating that many calories per day. Perhaps, people are eating the same things. However, it's scientifically proven that heavy people (unless there is a medical issue) consume more calories then thin people. Yes, heavy people almost always eat more, or more calorie laden foods. You might SEE the same foods and portions, but you don't see them at all hours of the day. At work, home, out. People do eat food when you're not around. There is NO way (again, unless a medical issue) a 250 pound woman doesn't eat more, or more unhealthy then a 120 pound woman.

A person can exercise all they want, but if they don't eat well...their weight is harder to get off. On the flip side, healthy eaters can hold onto lots of weight, if they have a sedentary lifestyle. Usually, very large people have to eat more, to maintain their weight. There are all kinds of medical, thyroid, hormonal, etc things that can factor too. Fat doesn't always equal unhealthy and thin doesn't always equal healthy. Sometimes, people are just genetically heavy, or thin. Sometimes, weight has nothing to do with food. For the majority of overweight people, however....I think it does have to do with food. (Based on what science knows currently.)

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answers from Minneapolis on

My SIL is overweight and I'm fairly thin. We both eat about the same whenever we go to a restaurant or family gathering. But I know that she eats inconsistently and not always meals. I know she drinks a lot of coffee with flavored creamers and soda. She snacks while watching TV and usually skips breakfast. She doesn't exercise at all. I on the other hand eat breakfast, lunch & dinner and snack between. I exercise twice a day and watch my portions and eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. You just don't know what people are eating at home.

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answers from Portland on

I'm sure there are overweight people who are obese because they eat too much. But there are also overweight people like me, who diet stringently, exercise as much as they possibly can, and gain weight easily anyway.

The only "treats" I ever eat are when I'm out in public – I occasionally will "indulge" in ONE piece of bread, or ONE bite of my husband's dessert. (He's skinny and eats like a fiend – I'm married to an eating machine!)

I don't sneak food. I'm somewhat overweight, and have had type 2 diabetes for the past 10 years. I have managed to slowly lose over 35 pounds in the past 2 years… to do this, I have had to replace my 1500 calorie/day diet with an 1100 calorie/day diet. Even my "higher" calorie diet, which avoided carbs, allergic foods and processed foods like the plague, tended to put weight on around my middle, slowly but surely.

This all started at menopause, which knocked my metabolism down to zilch. Before then, I was pretty trim. I have asked 3 different doctors to consider whether my thyroid needs help, but my tests always put me right at the bottom of "normal." Quite a bit of research suggests that that's still way too low for many people. Thyroid treatment used to be based on symptoms (I have most of the symptoms on a very long list), but since blood tests became available, it's now based on the numbers.

In the past few years, I have developed fairly severe joint pain and absolutely wild foot pain. Exercise is difficult and uncomfortable, but I do it anyway. I can manage up to 30 minutes a day of cross-country walking before I am just too crippled to continue. It's not enough for real weigh loss, so I starve instead. And I've used every diet and exercise strategy for the past 2 decades.

I'm sure there are overweight people who are obese because they eat too much. But there are also overweight people just like me. You can't tell by looking.

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answers from Redding on

I work with a woman who is morbidly obese.
She is beautiful and has the best personality, however, she is not honest with herself as to the amounts of food she eats.

She'll say that she brought a tuna sandwich for lunch, and she eats it at break time. Then, on her lunch hour, she goes to the restaurants near our office, by herself, and eats a huge lunch. By huge, I mean portions that 3 people could easily share and be full. She eats all of it. She never has a container of left overs.

She gets no exercise.
She recently injured her knee and the doctor told her the main problem with her knee is her weight. She needs to lose at least 200 pounds. She was shocked, offended, and mad at the doctor. He's not the first doctor to tell her that her weight is dangerously affecting her health. She's on blood pressure medication, has adema in her extremities, and is in serious danger of having congestive heart failure.

She is 35 years old. It's a vicious cycle for her. Now her weight is affecting her joints making it hard for her to exercise, but that's what she needs to get her metabolism going and help with the water retention. They can't do anything for her knee until or unless she loses weight. Now she's decided she wants gastric bypass surgery, but they won't do that either with all her other health issues. Still, she will swear that she doesn't eat that much. But she does.

Some people could never be thin. Their frame isn't built for it or it's not in their genetic makeup. I am very small framed like my mother, but my sister isn't. She's not fat, but she's twice my size. That's normal for her, and she's very healthy. I'm built like a stick and she looks amazing in a bathing suit. Va-va-voom!

I don't think you can go by what you see people buying in the store or eating at a restaurant. What people do in public is just a small glimpse into the rest of their every day lives. I know people that have gained weight or look very puffed up due to medications they take. It's not directly related to what they do or don't eat. Some people are thin because they're sickly.

I think that everything in moderation is a healthy thing for everyone.

Just my opinion.

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answers from Chicago on

Very interesting question!

Here is my experience. For seven years, I lived on a So Cal beach house with three other roommates. If one girl moved out, another girl moved in. About half of my roommates turned out to have an eating disorder of some kind.

One roommate was an overeater. When she would get stressed out, she would eat an entire half gallon of ice cream in one sitting. She told me that when she was in college, she ate an entire jar of mayonnaise because she was extremely angry at someone and could not express it. She was heavy, but not morbidly obese. She was also a very nice person.

Three of my other roommates were bulimic. They appeared to eat healthy meals and healthy portions when I was around. But then after the meal, I would hear the water running in the bathroom, and I could hear that the vomiting had begun. I'm sure they probably hid food in their rooms. One of the women went so far as to vomit in various neighbors' trash cans to hid her bulimia. (She either didn't know or didn't care that the neighbors saw this.) These bulimic roommates were of thin to average build and didn't look unhealthy either, other than maybe brittle hair.

I tend to think that food, like money, is a rather taboo subject in the United States. I am Chinese, and we grew up talking about money and food all the time. We are even preoccupied by digestion issues. When people don't talk about food portion control, nutrition, controled spending, and financial health, it is hard to grow up knowing what is normal and reasonable.

I am quite slim and trim. When I was younger, I was downright skinny. People -- especially men -- used to comment on the large amount of food I was able to put away. If I weren't skinny, you better believe I would be extremely self-concious about what people saw me eat. I can only imagine how hard it must be for someone with body images and an eating disorder to eat in front of other people.

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answers from Boston on

Hmmm... very interesting question. I think most heavier people eat more than they should. On the flip side, I think many thin people eat more than they should and have a metabolism to counteract it. I remember talking to a co-worker one morning. He noted that a heavier co-worker did not need to eat a muffin. Interestingly, the person making the comment had the same muffin. He felt he was justified in eating it b/c he wasn't as heavy.

I have battled weight issues since I was a kid, so I am very aware of what calories I eat. Do I eat more calories than I should some days? Definitely! Is it because I didn't know? Not so much. I find that people who have a weight issue for the first time later in life have less of a clue about the calories in the foods they eat. Yes exercise plays a role, yes age plays a role, yes metabolism plays a role.

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answers from Boise on

In some cases they eat just like everyone else, in other cases it is because of their food choices. There is no way to tell by just looking at someone so most people will assume that it is what they eat.

My normal weight is pretty heavy. What I mean is I eat average meals (smaller then most people) and have an active life but don't exercise and this is the weight I am. I have lost weight but I dang near had to starve to get to that weight. Wasn't worth it to me, so instead I am happy with who I am...minus the mom pooch from giving birth 6 times lol

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Personally I believe your weight is determined how you eat the MAJORITY of the time. If the thin person ate the supersize meal at the fast food place on a regular basis than they are going to pack on the pounds. If it is only once in a blue moon, it is no more than a blip on their diet radar.

There is a saying that you did not put the weight on overnight and it is not going to come off overnight. It is how you regularly eat that is going to determine your weight.

Sometimes I think weight is a matter of eating smarter (i.e. leaving off the extras. Instead of eating a baked potato with cheese, butter and sour cream - eat it plain with salt and pepper. Drink your coffee black instead of adding the creamer. Don't add croutons and cheese to the salad.) Small changes can add up big because like you said people underestimate just how many calories these extras add.

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answers from Washington DC on

Yes they do eat more and probably exercise less. Most of the heavy people I know drink a lot of sugared soda, and they eat a lot outside of meals. So even though they may eat meals in the same portions as everyone else, they consume quite a few calories during non-meal times too. I've seen people munch all day at work.

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answers from Williamsport on

OH HECK YEAH they eat differently! Except in cases where their are disorders etc.

You cannot judge by carts and public parties, restaurants etc. Well sometimes you can judge by carts, I've seen carts full of junk food with large shoppers plenty of times. You can also get very overweight on healthy food if you take in more than you burn off. As for parties and meals out? If you ate dinner out with me, you'd most likely see me, an average weight person, ordering a big meal with appetizers, a glass of wine or two and dessert. Why? Because I ALMOST never get to do that. YUM! AND for the next two days I'd be drastically cutting calories and adding in a gym day to my normal regular gym schedule. The REST of the time, I'm eating careful portions of healthy food. I have a house full of healthy food, and if I eat even a little too much of it, or skip exercise at all, I gain weight immediately. I'm forever at war with the first 10-15 pounds.

We occasionally go to McDonalds for the play yards, and we MAY have a tray full of food if it's 4pm and we haven't eaten lunch...but then we compensate for it and do it very rarely.

Oh, and I've been to plenty of parties where I snack and snack and snack, because I've "budgeted for it" with more work outs that weak and less eating for a day or two after.

I only have ONE friend who seems to "not try" and remain skinny, but even she is very active and has a healthy diet. Most people I know who are overweight eat more than I do and do less exercise etc. And of COURSE people (of any size) don't overeat in public. But I have had someone say to me "I'm jealous you can eat like that and stay thin" in a restaurant. ?

I think if you're one of the rare few who stay thin without trying, it's probably hard to understand how other people stay thin or gain weight-so congrats on that if you're one of those!

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answers from Columbia on

I haven't read any responses, so this isn't meant to step on any toes...

I think there is a small percentage of the general population (i.e. earth) that have some physical (genetic/glandular) issue that causes weight gain. I do not know what that percentage is, but I would guess less than 10% (10% is also the estimate of homosexuality in the population, just FYI)

I think of those that are not in the physical issue category, but are still obese it is a combination of factors. I think a large percentage is due to metabolism - maybe as much as 30%.

I think another large percentage is due to activity. Not necessarily exercise, but do you take a walk at least once every couple weeks? Do you take the stairs every once in a couple weeks? The people I know that consider themselves "active" and are relatively low on the BMI scale, i.e. HWP - this is about the norm. Some workout. Some don't. But they all at least make honest efforts to take the stairs or get out for a walk once in awhile. I'd guess activity accounts for another large percentage - maybe up to 40%.

And I think lifestyle - how we eat and what we eat account for the remaining 30%.

So in sum, you need two out of the three on my list to be "obese". Slow metabolism - fine, just be active and maybe watch a little of what you eat. Really slow metabolism (using up all its 40%, really really slow), then make up 40% out of the remaining two categories to balance it out.

Likewise, have a super active lifestyle, and you have more metabolism to sacrifice, and less watching what you eat.

However, this doesn't account for cholesterol and some other items associated with the "what you eat" cagtegory. Also I mean this is just a very general idea, as obviously calorie intake and output is really the basis for my theory.

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answers from New York on

This is an interesting question!

My response to this would be "in most cases, yes". We all know that person who is the exception to the rule- you know the Twiggy who eats like a horse as well as the person who eats fairly well, but who has a medical condition that impacts the metabolism.

After having my second child, I wanted to drop the weight as quickly as I did with my first so I exercise daily, eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water... but I was surprised by the difficulty I was having. I am not a "heavy" person (5' 120 prepregnancy), but I'm not "thin" either. Here's what I discovered... I HAD NO IDEA how many calories were in the foods I was eating each day. I started using the My Fitness Pal app and it has changed my eating patterns drastically.

Fruits are good for you, but are very high in calories. Veggies are also good for you and have much fewer calories. Portion size in my head is not nearly the same as getting out the measuring cup and portioning out a 1/2 cup of noodles for dinner.

My mother's best friend is VERY heavy. Her weight has fluctuated dramatically over the years I have known her, but in general she has always been quite overweight. Her doctor suggested that she start an exercise routine AND begin working with a nutritionist and what she discovered is that while she was eating healthy foods, she was eating way too much of it!

EVERYTHING has calories! Lettuce has calories... tomatoes have calories... bananas have a ton of calories!

So, yes, I do think that people who are overweight (not due to a medical condition) do not pay attention to their calorie balance. They eat more than they expend in a day. On the flip side, people who are too thin are expending more than they take in.

Healthy eating and obtaining a healthy weight (and sustaining it) is about balance and really appreciating portion sizes!

Oh... and I noticed the other day while we were at the gas station that the number of heavy people walking out of the Dunkin Donuts with a bag of something as well as a cup of something with whipped cream on it was notably more than the number of "healthy shaped" individuals.

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answers from Chicago on

When I was at my heaviest, I was very busy and oftentimes didn't have time to make lunch for work. I'd get my supersized meals via the drive-thru, to spare me the embarrassment of being the stereotypical supersized woman going into the fast food joint.

Now I eat VERY healthy foods--whole grains, tons of non-starchy veggies, lots of fruits, lean protein, low sodium, but I just eat way too much of it. I am a stress/comfort eater, but never in public.

I am very self-conscious about what I put on my plate when we are at parties, and usually end up going home hungry.

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answers from San Francisco on

It's simple biology. In order to be morbidly obese, you have to be taking in a lot more calories than you're burning, for an extended period of time. There's no other way to become that size.

I do understand that people have medical problems that can lead to weight gain. I myself have a thyroid gland that just doesn't function, and this led to a massive slowdown in metabolism. I gained about 20 pounds over a period of 6 years before finally realizing something was wrong. But in order to gain 100 pounds, I'd have really had to eat a lot and never exercise. So I do believe that the morbidly obese eat a greater quantity, and higher calorie foods, on average, than those of normal weight.

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answers from Phoenix on

I am what you call "morbidly obese". I have been most of my life and its a constant struggle. I is not so much quantity with me, but quality and lack of exercise...and, lucky me, I have the "fat gene" since most of the women and my dad are also obese. However, I LOVE salads and eat my fair share of veggies. I cook "typical" meals for the family, my daughter is a little chubby, my son is skinny. The last several months we have been trying to make "healthier" choices for our life including eating better and exercising more.

That being said, yes, to a point a "fat" person is not going to order 3 combo meals at McD's. I mean really? However, I'm sure there are those who will use the drive thru and do that. And at parties they likely won't stand there and eat a ton of food in front of everyone, which I actually think that draws MORE attention to their size. That being said, if my husband and I are at a buffet, WE think its hysterical when we see a fat person piling food on their plate, and going back for seconds, thirds, fourths, etc. So when you are fat, its obvious to everyone, I mean you can't hide it, right? So do people "expect" us to pig out in public because of our size? I don't know. I wish that people would understand that EVERYONE has issues, some issues are obvious to the general public, and some are not. It shouldn't be so easy to judge when we don't know someone's lifestyle, but I know it is because I do it myself.

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answers from Chicago on

I don't really know. My husband and I watch what we eat like crazy and exercise a lot, and we're thin. So, interesting...if we didn't do this would we be fat? Not sure how science would study that since they could not convince healthy eaters/exercisers to stop, probably, lol, for the sake of a study.

At restaurants we eat what anybody eats, just not the fries or any white sauce, etc. Stuff like that. So I think just looking around in public, it would be deceptive. At home, you'd see us eating chicken spinach salads for dinner, but that's in the privacy of the home.

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answers from Seattle on

I recommend you all read: "Wheat Belly"

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answers from Oklahoma City on

My weight issue is from being poor and not able to buy what is said to be "healthy" food.

We eat cheap mac and cheese at least 1-2 times per week, hb helper, too much stuff like that. We hardly ever have money for extravagances like fresh fruit or meat. We buy canned foods and lots of stuff from the freezer section because it is cheaper. Plus you save money on dish soap and hot water if you don't have to do a lot of dishes.

It can also be from not knowing much about nutrition. I know that a lot of foods are healthier than some give them credit for being. But if a person uses good common sense as to what an actual serving size is they will often do much better with their meals and what their body does with that food they eat.

Some people can eat 3000 calories per day and never weigh over 120 lbs, my sister included. Her cholesterol stays close to 300 all the time, so does my brothers, he weighs around 130. I weigh near 300 and have low blood sugar, low cholesterol, and have low blood pressure. That's the genetics's of it.

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answers from Washington DC on

Sometimes it's body type. Sometimes it's energy output. And sometimes it's being a lucky twit with the ability to burn whatever you eat - at least til you get older. Also, medications like steroids and birth control can mess with your weight. I have a friend whose family is thin - but they all have massive cholesterol problems and he's been on meds for it since childhood. My xSF used to make a pound of fatty bacon and eat more than half by himself. I think a lot of people underestimate what they eat and if you're used to eating more, you'll need more to be full. One one episode of a show about morbid obesity, the doctor said he had a patient that didn't understand why he was so heavy because he "ate right". Sure, he ate oranges, but an entire BAG of oranges at one sitting. And then did nothing to burn it. Calories are calories. If you are thin but don't exercise, you're not really healthy, either.

But back to your original post - medications aside, maybe the age of the person factors and maybe they aren't truly eating all the same things. If you watch them, maybe they eat similarly at the same meal, but what did they have for breakfast? How much? Did one drink soda and another water? Did one have one and a half scoops of potatoes? Did one add butter? Etc. I don't think my bigger cousins eat vastly differently than me at Thanksgiving, but that's also not a typical meal. We all eat too much then.

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answers from Indianapolis on

Sometimes people can be unhealthy and "thin". Think about the basics. Children need extra calories to grow. Pregnant women eat more and gain weight. If you eat the same amount after the baby is born it will be difficult to lose weight. My husband has been eating way too much and finding it impossible to lose weight. So I started making smaller meals. Now he's eating breakfast for the first time in years. A lot of big people get that way by food choices so they need to make different choices to lose weight.

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answers from Dallas on

I think there are so many variables. Exercise definitely matters, how much matters, but even more than how much it is what kind of food you are eating most days. If 2 people eat the same amount but one is eating more protein, fruits and veggies and the other is eating mostly highly processed carbohydrates...that makes a huge difference. The one eating mostly protein, fruits and veggies will likely have fewer issues.

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answers from Portland on

I don't know. I have friends across the spectrum of body-types and the commonality I usually notice is that we all love good food and will enjoy it unabashedly. I can't really judge about fast-food, just because it's been something like ten years since I've had any. And no, from my experience, my heavier friends do not seem to be 'food conscious' out at restaurants or gatherings and the like. Maybe because we love them unconditionally? I don't know... I imagine you might see the sort of behavior you are describing from people who *don't want to be perceived as fat* rather than people who are bigger and have some level of self-acceptance?

Oh, and I'm a bit heavier than I would like, but only seem to be eating 'not so much' at gatherings because I have a lot of food sensitivities-- I often eat before going out so I know that I will get a good, balance meal and not be grouchy and hungry the whole evening.

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answers from Portland on

I have always had problems with my weight....when I was a baby I was a very chubby baby and my very young, and naive, 18 year old mom, took me off of formula (karo syrup, evatorated milk, etc,) and put me on nonfat dry milk (powdered). Today we know that baby's have to have fat in their brains for the synapsis to form correctly. IF you don't get it when you need it then, the body becomes extremely good at keeping fat for later use. And, since it happened so early in life, the body doesn't know any other way to be. So, do I eat more than you? No,I probably eat much much less. You know the whole thing about "diets don't work?" well, they dont' because I usually can't eat that much food at one time. This was especially true with Jenny Craig. Anyway, I wanted to give you another point of view from the "fat" person.

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answers from Houston on

As Charity A. many variables. Sometimes the stomach is bigger and requires more to feel full. Sometimes they eat less but have lower metabolism. (Sometimes they have lower metabloism because they eat less and move less. Less movement turns bodily functions into sludge.) Sometimes they're overweight because their hormones are out of whack. Sometimes their bodies are just wired to process certain foods differently, and they haven't figured that out. (All "healthy" foods are not healthy for every body.)

On top of that, low metabolism or kooky hormones or the wrong diet--or any combination thereof--can lead to lethargy and depression, which then exacerbates the situation and makes it harder to get off that cycle.

Thin does not equal healthy. Neither does "thick". Each of us runs an individual race.

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answers from Chicago on

I have been on both ends of the spectrum - very thin and quite fat(not obese). During those days when I was underweight, I was trying my best to out on weight. I would eat a lot of high calorie food, but I remained as thin as ever. Then finally , I became fat years later after spending one winter in the midwest :) LOL. Yes I was sitting at home alll day and eating food non stop because I was bored, there was nothing to do, too cold to go out... And I gradually put on more weight than I intended to. That's when I realized , even though I was trying hard to gain weight all my life, I wasn't eating enough. My portions were quite small(even though I felt VERY full) compared what I eat now. For ex: I can eat a footlong subway sandwich now, earlier a 6 incher was a lot, I would struggle to finish it :)
Now I am trying to lose weight and it's hard again. I am trying to control my portion , eat healthy but the weight does not come off easily.
So yes, to answer your question , unless there are medical reasons, eating high calorie food , snacking a LOT all day, reduced or less activity makes people obese.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I can't really answer the direct question... although I have my own personal assumptions about it. But rather, I would point out that you are using a few circumstances you happened to have witnessed as a baseline for "normal" for all of these people.

Sure, you see thin people get the "upsized" meal at a fast food place, right alongside a morbidly obese person. But what you don't see, is what both of them are eating the other 6 nights that week. Right? Maybe that thin person is having their "once a week splurge" or their "once a week lazy meal" or whatever, while for the obese person, it is their follow up to the same thing at lunch, and the same thing they will have several more times during the week.
Obviously, I may be exaggerating a bit in my hypothetic scenario, but it is just to make the point that you can't draw too much in the way of conclusions based upon only one or two witnessed meals.
Maybe that thin person got up an hour early to go on a 4 mile run before they left for work, too. You can't see that by observing them standing in a line (whether at a fast food place or a grocery store).

Perhaps heavy people do pay more attention to what they are SEEN eating in public. Perhaps not. Perhaps they eat healthier OUT than at home.... It can work that way, too. It usually does for me. I tend to grab a salad or fish at a restaurant... but I don't like cooking fish at home, and a salad can be a lot of labor to prepare at home... so I'll maybe make a starch (or heck, let's face it... even a frozen pizza if I really feel lazy or whatever) instead of veggies.

I would venture to GUESS that there ARE differences in how "fat" people and "thin" people eat. But I doubt that they are solely responsible for the difference in the weight/health of the people you are comparing. So much more comes into play.

Sorry if I repeated anything.. I didn't read the other responses first.

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answers from New York on

Being overweight all my life, and the worst it has ever been now is a struggle daily. I have cut my intake, started walking 2 miles a day and put ON weight! We eat out ONCE a month IF that often. I cook balanced meals. I dont snack even once a day but perhaps 3 times a week. 3 snacks a week, not 3 snacks a day 3 times a week. I DO buy chips and things for the kids about once a month, and then half the bag goes stale. They would rather the sunflower seeds lol. I dont care for most chips. Do I like cake? Of course! Who doesnt? But I dont have a piece even once a month. (managed to have a taste of the 2 flavors at my brothers wedding, not even my own piece of one as I was busy taking pictures lol) I eat left over dinner for breakfast (less in the way of processed cereal or foods that way, and a bit more balanced) lunch is a sandwich of 3 pieces of lunch meat and a piece of cheese, or pb&j, that is IF I even am hungry for lunch. Sometimes it is just a tablespoon of peanutbutter on its own, or nothing as I am not hungry. Those are the days I might have a snack at about 3. I drink water, home brewed iced tea with NO sweetener. I dont do coffee anymore so no sugar there, or extra milk, I will have a cup of milk with breakfast and 1 with dinner. In the past month I have had a total of 3 cans of soda. I dont keep it in the house, then I dont drink it as it is like cake.. tasty lol. Dinner has protein, a starch, and at least 1 veggie. I do love starch, but try to not have too much of it. I might not succeed every day, but I at least try.

All that being said, with the cutting of my portions, and the start of walking, I put ON weight. Gee.. thanks body.. I told this to my doctor, and she said "well, you are going to have to try harder" Gee Dr I hate you more then my body right now. My mother has an underactive thyroid, and dad is heavy, my brother is a bean pole and eats like a horse. I think the next thing for me is to get a new Dr and use the lunch plate at dinner.

Now sure, I have days (that are few) that I might indulge, 95% of them I am not. When we are out at a special occasion I will enjoy the food if I like it. So that means twice a year. Otherwise I know just what I am eating and think about it first.

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answers from Dallas on

In my experience, genetics plays a huge, HUGE factor in pre-disposition to gaining weight. Take my immediate family for instance. I'm the ONLY one who gains weight easily. I inherited those wonderful genes from my Mom's side of the family. They are all overweight, every single one. My brothers have always been rail-thin, but I've always packed on pounds just by looking at food (not really, but you get the point).

That said, I could manage my weight better by making healthy choices. Just because I'm pre-disposed does not mean that I have to be overweight. Weight simply comes down to calories in/calories out. It really is that simple.

So, to answer your question, yes, overweight people eat too much, and they don't exercise enough to compensate for what they eat. (of course, medical conditions affect that equation).

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answers from Lakeland on

Personally I think it is what’s in our food not so much of how much (although that does play a big part) food people eat. In the past 40 to 50 years they have added so many crappy ingredients to the foods. Some stuff so they last longer and most to cut back the cost of preparing them or to create mass quantities. All of these things affect our bodies and some more than others.

There are people that have problems with hormones, thyroid and genetics that will also gain weight. And age we all change as we get older.

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answers from New York on

I think our society stereotypes "fat" people too much. Not all overweight people are overwieght for the same reasons. Yes you do have some that are addicted to food or are emotional eaters, but not all. Think that's why you see them eating the same amount of food as average sized people. Some people have physical problems or medicines they take or their bodies just don't handle food the same way a thin person's body does, which makes them gain weight and makes it hard for them to take it off. When I was growing up, my mother was 200 lbs. and the most wonderful person on Earth. It was so ironic that Mom and only one of my sisters was overweight. The rest of us were underweight and my father was average weight, but muscular. We couldn't gain weight no matter what we ate or how much we ate, but it seemed like all Mom had to do was to look at food. and the pounds would roll on. We never found out why, because back then it was assumed someone's fat because they eat a lot. The lowest Mom could get down to with exercise and/or diet was 198 lbs. She even tried Weight Watchers, which lasted 3 months only 2 lbs. weight loss. I was so thin that she used to make me milk shakes every night, but I never gained the weight. We used to joke that everyone in the family had a fast metabolism, except Mom and mine was on hyperdrive. Mom didn't loose weight until she got cancer. The nurses stopped weighing here when she hit 113 lbs. and the end was near. Now I'm older and am watching my weight. I didn't start gaining weight until I hit 30, so now I'm average weight and want to keep it that way. I exercise and eat mostly vegiesand fruit and very little meat. ( I try to keep meat to 1-2 X/week.) At parties, I pig out just like the other skinny people since it's not that often.

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answers from Tampa on

Well, for me, I am overweight, but not "obese". I actually do not eat enough. I eat very little, and based on how and what I eat, I should be extremely thin. All of the people that I know who are very thin, eat WAY more than I do. I know that a big part of my weight issue is my medical issues. I am on several medications that contribute to my weight problem. Also, since I don't eat that much, my metabolism is pretty much shut down. If I ate more, I would weigh less. My body thinks that I am starving, so anything that I DO eat, my body wants to hold onto and store as fat. I never eat breakfast, and rarely eat lunch. Most days I end up eating nothing until 3 or 4 pm, and then I will have a piece of fruit or a slice of cheese or sandwich meat. (whatever type we have in the fridge) Then at suppertime, I eat whatever I make for supper. I eat less at suppertime than my 9 yr old does. I usually don't finish whatever is on my plate. I drink 2 cups of coffee in the am, and have 1 12 oz. Mt. Dew during the day. The rest of the day I drink water. At bedtime I drink a big cup of juice. (whatever type we have) I always drinnk milk with my supper, and occasonally will drink milk if I do end up eating lunch. (if I do eat lunch, its usually a sandwich of some type, but without any condiments) I have a calcium defficiency, so I take between 14 and 16 caltrate daily as well as prescription calcitriol, so I am nauseus all day everyday. It's hard to force yourself to eat when you are always feeling ill. I do take meds for the nausea, but they don't always work.Still, I end up forcing myself to eat something everyday, because if I don't I would go without eating and then I would have problems with headaches and feeling lightheaded.
So IMO it isn't really always true that overweight people eat more than people who are thin. It really does depend on the person and their circumstance. :)

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