Archive for November, 2015

National Over-Feeding Months

November 27th, 2015

It often seems as if the period from Labor Day in September through Halloween in October, Thanksgiving in November, Christmas in December, New Year in January, Valentine’s Day and the football playoffs in February are  designed to promote overeating. It is a wonder we all are not obese. So amid the food celebration and token diet advice, it’s nice to have some solid, research-based exposition of  the myths surrounding weight loss and weight gain. We have one, thanks to Kevin Hall, Ph.D., a distinguished researcher at the National Institutes of Health. (For coverage of Dr. Hall’s recent work, click here.)

Something To Be Grateful For

November 25th, 2015

Modern HealthCare magazine reports that Mississippi is planning to add bariatric surgery to its Medicaid program, citing research from the STOP Obesity Alliance.

How many fewer calories should I eat?

November 22nd, 2015

Back in 2012, I took a look at the common prescription for weight loss: Eat less. Well, ok, eat less than what? The answer is your resting metabolic rate (RMR). OK. How do I find my resting metabolic rate? Well in 2012, there were a number of calculators available on the web. I recently revisited this question. I did a number of Google searches for “resting (or basal) metabolic rate calculators” or “how many calories should I eat”. What I found is that several of the governmental sites had just taken down their on-line calculators. But the existing calculators game me answers of 3,493, 2,725, 3,027 and 1,937 calories a day just to maintain my current weight, without gaining weight or losing weight.

 So, if you are looking to figure out your resting metabolic rate so you can calculate how many fewer calories you need to lose weight, the present calculators, based on my age/weight etc., have a range of 1,556 calories per day, a huge amount, equivalent (perhaps) to about half a pound per day!

Until we can give the public an accurate number on which to determine their current caloric requirement, perhaps we should stop recommending they eat less until we know what that means.

There are alternate calculators but these are not represented on well-visited sites.

Is CDC Massaging the Obesity Stats?

November 22nd, 2015

The world was positively giddy this week following the release of a new CDC Obesity prevalence report. There was so much self-congratulation going on in the childhood obesity world I was afraid of an outbreak of carpal tunnel syndrome.

The headlines shouted that the childhood obesity numbers had stabilized and many groups claimed credit for the success. The CDC reported that, “the prevalence of obesity among U.S. youth was 17% in 2011-2014. Overall, the prevalence of obesity among preschool-aged children (2-5 years) (8.9%) was lower than among school-aged children (6-11 years) (17.5%) and adolescents (12-19) (20.5%).” The report goes on to state, “Between 2003-2004 and 2013-14, however, no change in prevalence was seen among youth.”

Hey, great news, no?  Well, the 17% figured was derived from averaging three groups: 2-5YOA, 6-11 YOA and 12-19 YOA. I question of including 2-5 year olds. The prevalence for this group is about half for the other age groups. And, frankly, they are toddlers. Their prevalence figure probably represents parental panic at the prospects of raising an overweight child. This panic may lead to restrained eating strategies which often fail as the child grows up. As soon as the child starts to exercise more control over their own feeding and behavior, the prevalence rate doubles. Doubles! Taking the 2-5 years old out of the equation, the youth prevalence rate is 19%, not 17%. , 19% is not leveling off. (Truth be told I did not attempt to re-calculate the historical figures without the 2-5 age group.) Keep in mind that CDC views obesity as a binary switch. You are either obese or not. They do not take into account the growth of body weights within the obesity category, i.e. class III or severe obesity growth.

Finally, the CDC does note, “The prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults remains higher than the Healthy People 2020 goal of 30.5%. Although the overall prevalence of childhood obesity is higher than the Healthy People 2020 goal of 14.5%, the prevalence of obesity among children aged 2-5 is below the goal of 9.4%.”

Before popping the champagne, advocates and the media should consider that we are moving further and further away from the targets of Healthy People 2020, not to mention Healthy People 2010. Therefore, it is reasonable to ask if self-congratulation based on failure is an appropriate response.

Criminal Crackdown on Supplement Makers

November 21st, 2015

This week the federal Department of Justice announced major criminal and civil actions against 100 makers of dietary supplements, including those for weight loss. According to DOJ, the actions resulted from a year-long effort, beginning in November 2014, to focus enforcement resources in an area of the dietary supplement market that is causing increasing concern among health officials nationwide.  In each case, the department or one of its federal partners allege the sale of supplements that contain ingredients other than those listed on the product label or the sale of products that make health or disease treatment claims that are unsupported by adequate scientific evidence.


Study Affirms that Central Obesity has Higher Mortality Risk

November 21st, 2015

A new article reaffirms earlier studies showing that in persons with a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) had the worst long-term survival compared to others with a similar BMI but no central obesity and twice the mortality risk of persons who were overweight or obese according to BMI.


Fat and Fashion in Presidential Politics

November 21st, 2015

What goes around comes around. After Donald Trump dumped on an overweight protestor, WaPo’s Robin Givhan took the opening to comment on his sensitivity about his own weight and appearance. Here is her article.


Why Conservatives Seem to Favor Dietary Supplements

November 8th, 2015

Do conservatives favor dietary supplements? That’s pretty much the point of David Weigel’s article in the Washington Post. He picks up on Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson’s relationship with the dietary supplement maker, Mannatech Inc. (Mannatech’s products including those promising weight loss.) His article points to a deep relationship of conservatives and dietary supplement manufacturers, based on common rejection of expertise in favor of personal liberty and antipathy to big government, in this case the Food and Drug Administration.

Readers may remember that it was a relationship with a supplement manufacturer which led to the criminal convictions of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife. But liberals, like former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, are not immune.