I recently read about baseball player, Heath Bell, who lost 25lbs over the winter using the Nintendo Wii. Given my own inability to lose the lingering 20lbs that I have gained over the last few years, I diligently researched the Wii for fitness purposes. I quickly came to realize that like any other form of exercise, you actually have to commit to it and do it...and it's not really as fun as it sounds.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center put four popular diets -- high carb, high fat, low-fat and high protein -- to the test to see which of the regimens resulted in more weight-loss success.
After two years of monitoring the participants, "all the diets were winners," said study co-author Dr. Frank Sacks, a professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at the Harvard School of Public Health. "All produced weight loss and improvements in lipids, reduction in insulin.
"The key really is that it's calories. It's not the content of fat or carbohydrates, it's just calories," said Sacks. The findings are published in the latest edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
I'd love to take the time one day and research the diet advice market, as a whole. It seems like, despite the obvious, there are so many revenue channels from books to fad diets to support groups. It seems like all you have to do is write a book with a clever name, get on a TV show, and success is guaranteed.
Typical of McKenzie's interests is a recent paper that notes the average weight of Americans has increased 24 pounds since 1960, and how that has had a direct impact on gasoline prices. He contends Americans are using 1 billion gallons more gasoline per year hauling all that extra weight around, and airlines are using 1 billion gallons of additional jet fuel. And that extra demand contributes to the rising costs of gas (BusinessWeek.com, 6/3/08).
"My inconvenient truth for Al Gore is you can save polar bears by going on a diet, at least if it's done nationwide," says McKenzie.
I can see the obesity and oil thing becoming an increasingly common theme given how intuitively easy it is to explain to the layperson.
A really interesting study that determines that the impact of obesity is far greater than individual health issues:
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine calculated the obese consume 18% more calories than average.
They are also responsible for using more fuel, which has an environmental impact and drives up food prices as transport and agriculture both use oil.
The result is that the poor struggle to afford food and greenhouse gas emissions rise, the Lancet reported.
This is the first time that I have ever seen a study like this, but it makes absolute sense. I am really intrigued by the potential solutions:
Phil Edwards, who co-authored the article, said: "Urban transport policies that promote walking and cycling would reduce food prices by reducing the global demand for oil and promotion of a normal weight.
We need to incentivize the obese to lose weight. Having society push for these measures since it impacts the masses could finally lead to individual changes.
Be careful what you eat as a kid, because those extra fries could make it harder to shed pounds years later in life.
A team of Swedish researchers has found that humans determine their total number of fat cells in childhood. New cells spring up and old ones perish, but their numbers change little after adolescence.
By measuring radiation absorbed after nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s and 60s, researchers found that our fat cells quickly regenerate.
But obese people turn over far more fat cells than others, says Kirsty Spalding, a biologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. The difference could explain why people battle to keep weight off after a diet.
"The take-home message is be careful what you feed your child," Spalding says. "Do everything you can to make sure you don't blow out your fat cell number when you are young."