What Is Culinary Medicine And Is It Enough To Treat Obesity?

The World Health Organization says that over 650 million adults globally are living with obesity

According to MedlinePlus, obesity happens when the body accumulates excess fat from a wide range of factors. While your genetics can contribute to obesity, it can also stem from consuming more calories than you burn — so physical activity is another key factor in obesity. 

Obesity is serious, as it can increase your odds of developing arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. 

Combating obesity is not as simple as starting to exercise more, however. Diet is a major component too. Merck Manual notes that certain types of foods and drinks can contribute to obesity. For example, processed foods found in fast food chains and vending machines, in addition to beverages that contain high amounts of fructose like soda or juices, may also contribute to obesity. A 2020 study published in the journal Missouri Medicine found that the American diet — which is predominantly made up of excessive servings of food, sugar, and calories — may contribute to obesity. The American diet is also devoid of fruits and vegetables. 

Researchers have been turning to food to try and combat obesity. Here's what you need to know about culinary medicine and its potential effects on obesity.

Is culinary medicine a feasible obesity treatment?

According to a 2016 study published in the journal of Population Health Management, culinary medicine uses the combination of food, cooking, and modern medicine to assist people in consuming healthy food with the end goal of preventing and treating disease, which may help contribute to overall well-being. Harvard Medical School notes that culinary medicine is a growing area of study that not only helps people eat healthier, but also helps them shop, cook, and store their food.

But some experts are not certain if culinary medicine is for everyone. According to MedicalNewsToday, different people may respond differently to culinary medicine, so the approach may not be ideal for some. Further, culinary medicine combines expertise in fields like cooking, economics, psychology, medicine, and nutrition. As such, it is a growing field and there may not be a lot of experts with high-level knowledge in every approach.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health says that limiting certain foods (like processed meats and drinks with excess sugar) and consuming healthier foods (like fruits and vegetables) may help prevent obesity. Exercising more and finding ways to mitigate stress may also help.