Weight Management: Beyond Balancing Calories

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Overview

Across the globe, more people are suffering from obesity than at any other time in our history. Why has obesity become so common and so challenging? In this course, we will look at the root cause of obesity, as explained by the latest science. We will see how our food environment has evolved over the last half-century, and how it is altering our biology to over-consume calories and resist sustained weight loss. We will also see how stress, a sedentary lifestyle, and inadequate sleep disrupt our appetite control system to promote gaining weight. By developing a better understanding of the physiology behind obesity, you will learn how to work with your body to prevent and manage weight gain. This course will also provide practical tools and strategies for creating a long-term, sustainable weight management plan to leverage your habits and your surroundings.

Syllabus

Understanding Obesity
-Since the discovery of the first appetite hormone in the 1990s, the science of obesity has advanced dramatically. The growing understanding of how hunger and weight "set point" are regulated is changing the way we need to approach weight loss. This week, we will see how the brain, hormones, gut, and emotions interact to control food intake and weight. By learning about our biology, and how to work with rather than against it, you will become more successful at reaching your goals.

Managing Obesity: The Role of Diet
-Counting calories can be helpful, but not all calories are created equal. Different foods are broken down and interact with our body in dramatically different ways. This week, we will look at the common ground among the healthiest dietary patterns and outline a framework for the diet best supported by existing scientific studies.

Beyond Diet: The Role of Stress, Exercise, & Sleep
-While the foods we eat are critical for managing weight, they are only part of the challenge. Often underestimated are the effects of stress, exercise, and sleep. The goal this week is to see how each of these factors can influence the hormones and chemicals that control our appetite and metabolism.

Using Habit & Emotions to Your Advantage
-Habits drive many of our everyday choices. Unlike deliberate decisions, habits are carried out instinctively. In addition to knowing about the foods and behaviors we need to adopt, we need to engineer habits to support out goals subconsciously. This week, we will learn how to use habit to our advantage and practice mindfulness when we eat.

Creating a Weight Loss Plan: A Step-Wise Approach
-In this final week, we will apply what we have learned - about our appetite and energy balance systems, about the specific foods and other missing links that affect our set point, and about the power of habit and awareness - into practical steps for designing a long-term successful weight loss plan.

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