Last updated on April 12th, 2017
Saturday Short Takes
Here’s a selection of web articles on weight loss and related topics that caught my eye this week.
1. Looking for Magic Bullets to Fire at Obesity
According to an article on the MedicalXpress site, “a number of magic bullets” are needed to fight obesity. It’s more like magic shotgun shells. After recounting the usual statistics about the extent of the obesity epidemic and its human and financial costs (in this case, with a UK focus), the article moves on to the “bullets.” Appropriately, these are bullet-listed. This “arsenal of different approaches” includes nine items, ranging from bariatric surgery to psychological considerations. Oddly, none of the bullets is about examining the composition of the diets of obese populations or individuals. The implication is that obesity is not about eating at all. It’s about . . . magic.
I don’t believe in magic.
2. “Pop” Goes the Obesity and Exercise Bubble!
One good point about the MedicalXpress article is that it doesn’t suggest getting more active as an approach for fighting obesity. Perhaps that was merely an oversight, but I prefer to believe that the exercise-for-weight-loss bubble has burst. Or at least that it has developed a persistent leak. In a Washington Post article “Take off that Fitbit. Exercise alone won’t make you lose weight,” UK cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra further pricks the bubble, arguing that “physical activity has a multitude of health benefits . . . but weight loss is not one of them.” He concludes that “curbing the global obesity problem will require changing what we eat.”
Dr. Jason Fung takes a more technical look at the subject on his blog, in a post entitled “Exercise is not Total Energy Expenditure.” The point is, the “calories out” part of the simplistic “calories in vs. calories out” formula for weight gain or loss involves a lot more than just exercise. Fung reviews the science in detail. He concludes that “exercise . . . is simply not all that effective in the treatment of obesity” and “if we want to reduce obesity, we need to focus on what makes us obese.”
This isn’t magic, it’s science.
3. Reducing Carbs is Worth a Try
I don’t claim that a low-carb diet is the magic bullet to stop all obesity, but it has worked for me. According to my BMI, I was obese when I started eating LCHF, and I no longer am. A new, balanced review entitled “Taking Carbohydrates in Context” was made available yesterday on Yahoo Health by the fitness magazine The Box. The article was originally published in the magazine on April 28, and attributed to Elke S. Nelson, Ph.D. It doesn’t break new ground, but provides a good introduction to the science, benefits, and possible limitations of a reduced carb diet. The bottom-line message is that if you decide to give carb-restriction a try, take a quality, whole-foods approach, “cooking pasture-raised eggs and rib-eye steaks rather than scarfing down protein bars.”
It’s hard to argue with that. I don’t always go the whole foods route, but I feel better about myself when I do.