My mother always joked about how much she ate. She never met a danish or bacon she did not like and she was always always fashion model thin. Then suddenly boom. She needed to count every calorie often eating amounts of food that to my nine year old eyes appeared insufficient for anything larger than a ferret. She stayed a healthy weight but only by being constantly hungry.

This may explain part of what happened.

This one hour documentary from the BBC has nothing to do with food allergies or celiac disease but it gets at the larger issue of food and medical problems and how none of this is ever “all in your head”. This documentary shows evidence that obesity and thinness are not about willpower or discipline, but may actually be about epigenetics and viruses.

This documentary covers a one month study where scientists did an experiment in England on a group of volunteers who described themselves as the sort of people who could eat anything they wanted without gaining weight to see what would happen if they made them eat twice as many calories as they needed each day for a month. The results were very interesting

All the “naturally thin” people found it difficult to eat all that high calorie food. It nauseated them.
Some people gained fat and weight as one might expect. Yet post study they had no trouble losing it again.
Some people gained muscle and very little fat but without any exercise
Some people saw a spike in their metabolic rate, their bodies burned the extra calories
Two volunteers literally could not eat the extra calories. They vomited when overfed by a large amount

So in other words

All “naturally thin” people seemed to feel full when they had enough calories and so eating whatever they wanted was not an issue because they literally did not have any desire to overeat
Some thin people have metabolisms that ratchet up when overfed
Some thin people literally cannot overeat by a large amount as it makes them vomit

Which means that there are people who have a biological advantage and its not their superior willpower.

In addition to this study they looked at why the morbidly obese struggle to keep weight off. There was another group of obese patients who had elected to be “locked up” and starved until they lost 10% of their body weight. They were then given a diet sufficient to maintain their new weight.

They were constantly hungry. Constant driving hunger as their bodies tried to get back to the obese weight.

So I am not sure that this tells anyone wanting to lose weight what to do, but it does tell us all that there are differences. Naturally thin people aren’t more disciplined and while some of them have great metabolisms, most don’t. They just can’t eat all that food.

Why someone weighs what they do is a complex matter which screams for further research and is likely to have many levels. There is actually a flu like virus that people catch that seems to make their ability to regulate hunger get wacky so that they experience this constant hunger as well. The segment on the virus is fascinating.

Long story short, its a fun one hour documentary and if you are thin, it will make you less smug. You are not a bastion of willpower, you aren’t even all that hungry.

If you are heavy it will validate what you already know in your bones to be true, it truly is much harder for you and it is NOT a choice to be heavy. It may be a virus and it may be epigenetic, but no matter what the cause is, it really is a lot harder to keep weight off for you.

Here is the BBC summary

And here is the video