Junk Food Can Damage Your Metabolism In Just 5 Days

The human body is an amazing machine. Capable of:

  • Climbing mountains,
  • Adapting to environments as disparate as the arctic and the tropical rain forest.
  • Running for hundreds of kilometres at a stretch,
  • Lifting freakishly heavy weights.
  • Amazing technological advances,
  • Creating art that can elevate the soul

Unfortunately, what your body can’t do is consume junk food – aka the Standard American Diet – without starting to fall apart.

Here’s the science:

According to this new study, after just 5 days of eating a diet that included sausage biscuits, macaroni and cheese, and food loaded with butter, healthy college-age students experienced a significant change in how their muscles processed nutrients. And not for the better.

According to the researchers, eating a starchy, fatty diet disrupts how your muscles metabolize glucose, “which could lead to the body’s inability to respond to insulin”, leading to insulin insensitivity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and a reduced quantity & quality of life.

NOTE: In the study, the test diet was designed to have fat make up 55% of the calories – as opposed to a “normal” 30% fat diet – with the inclusion of foods such as sausage biscuits and mac & cheese. And while I agree that a diet in which 55% of the calories comes from fat can be called a “high-fat” diet, I would argue that it would be more accurate to call it a “high fat AND carb” diet or a “high fat AND starchy carb” diet or a “high fat AND high gluten” diet.

To infer that fat is the villain here may not be wholly accurate. We need a bit more research before we start blaming a single macronutrient.

What does this mean to you?

  1. As yummy as sausage biscuits smothered in gravy and bacon smells, you may not want to eat it very often. Your body hasn’t evolved (devolved) to handle this type of food.
  2. If you can’t resist the siren song of Mac ‘n Cheese, space it out with some healthy food, like a Big Salad, to help your muscles sensitive to insulin.
  3. The next time you hear about a study saying High-Fat or High-Carb diets are bad, take a closer look at what the researchers consider high-fat or high-carb.dia


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Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

It seems like I hear some version of this question each and every day. Just this past weekend, it was posed to me by Angela.

  • Angela is a forty-something year old woman, with two kids and an executive position at an insurance company.
  • Angela is 5’6″ and weighs approximately 170 lbs.
  • Angela doesn’t want to weigh approximately 170 lbs.

Maybe, some of you can sympathize with her story.

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

Angela’s Story

All the way through high school, Angela was an average, healthy weight. Not thin; healthy. She participated in gym class and enjoyed playing tennis. In university, she fell victim to the dreaded “freshman fifteen”. By the time she graduated, it was more like 20 lbs.

After graduation, she lost most of that weight by exercising at a health club and watching what she ate.

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

Next came the babies…

After the birth of her two children, Angela found herself reunited with that extra 20 lbs. Throwing herself back into that same exercise and nutrition program, Angela managed to lose most of that 20 lbs….And then gain it all back….and then lose most of it again…..and then gain it all back plus a little bit extra.

This takes us back to the present day.

  • Angela has 35 lbs. of excess fat that she wants to be rid of.
  • And she feels completely lost.
  • She has read every diet book.
  • She has exercised like an Olympic athlete.
  • She has cleansed.
  • She has popped dietary supplements.
  • She has joined and quit three different diet programs.

Nothing works anymore. So she asks me, “Why can’t I lose weight”?

So Why Can’t She Lose Weight?

The truth is; when it comes to burning off excess body-fat, Angela has no idea what she is doing. But it’s not her fault.

  • The multi-billion dollar diet industry sets people up for failure. If every dieter was successful, who would buy the next best selling diet book? Who would buy the pills or the bars or the shakes or the… Well, you get the point.
  • The diet industry promises you easy weight loss. But when you fail, it is always due to your lack of will-power. So why don’t the diet gurus help you generate that will power?

Why don’t they give you a complete weight loss program involving:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise, and
  • Mental / Emotional / Spiritual Strategies

Starting on the next page, I will attempt to do that

Quick Nav:

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The Science Behind Ice Cream Addiction

Most of you can look at this picture of an ice cream sundae, appreciate it’s creamy goodness and move on with the rest of the article.

However, for an unlucky minority, just the very sight of this frozen delight is enough to set off a powerful dopamine response in their brain – leading to a burst of neuro-chemical happiness and an almost irresistible desire to find the nearest ice cream parlor.

For those people, the mental association between this picture of an ice cream sundae and the real thing is so powerful (due to the dopamine), that they can already imagine the pleasure they will receive as they dive into that giant bowl of ice creamy goodness….leading to an actual ice cream addiction…or potato chip addiction…or candy addiction…or chocolate addiction…

And, considering we live in a world where ice cream sundaes aren’t hard to come by, a large percentage of those dopamine-flooded individuals are going to indulge in a bowl or two.

And it’s not just ice cream.

Scientists believe that this study points the way to figuring out why some people are more strongly motivated by environmental cues and therefore at a greater risk of compulsive/addictive behavior.

And it’s not just over-eating…this research could apply to all manner of addictions – food, drugs, sex, danger, my blog, etc…


Lose Weight with Cocaine

As the world’s biggest health & fitness nerd, I read dozens of research papers every day…looking for any new ideas that could help my clients, readers and social media followers transform themselves into healthier, fitter, stronger, better versions of themselves.

Today…I came across one of the weirdest studies related to body weight and fat storage that I have ever seen.

cocaine tony montana

Entitled “The Skinny on Cocaine: insights into eating behavior and body weight in cocaine-dependent men”, the study was designed to confirm or debunk the general assumption that weight loss associated with cocaine is due to its appetite suppressing properties.

The researchers recruited 65 male volunteers, half cocaine users and the other half non-users. Eating behaviour, food intake, body composition and plasma leptin levels were measured. And although the cocaine users reported…

  1. Significantly higher levels of dietary fat consumption
  2. Significantly higher levels of dietary carbohydrate consumption
  3. Patterns of uncontrolled eating

…their body fat mass was significantly lower than the non-cocaine users.

cocaine body fat

They also found that the levels of the hormone leptin were lower in cocaine users and trended lower as the duration of the user’s stimulant use increased. This decrease in plasma leptin together with a high fat diet suggests an impaired energy balance, which typically leads to weight gain rather than weight loss.

Because of these surprising new findings, the researchers believe that regular cocaine abuse directly interferes with metabolic processes and thereby reduces body fat.

For addicts looking to kick their coke habit, this explains why they are prone to significant weight gain when they stop using cocaine.

But what about all those dieters desperate to drop some significant weight?

Do they wait a decade or more for Big Pharma to jump all over this research and start investigating a new pathway towards that elusive safe & effective weight loss drug?

Or do they try to self-modify their metabolism with a little Bolivian marching powder?


Super Scary Obesity Statistics

  • Until 1980, fewer than one in ten people were obese.
  • In 2010, 35% of Americans were classified as obese.


And it’s not just the US of A.

  • In 19 of the 34 OECD countries, the majority of the population is now overweight or obese.
  • OECD projections suggest that more than two out of three people will be overweight or obese in some OECD countries by 2020.


Maybe it’s time to do something about this???

Baby Formula Programs Your Child For Obesity

Researchers from the University of Buffalo have found that babies fed foods high in simple sugars (carbs) immediately after birth are prone to becoming overweight/obese as adults.

This is due to a period of developmental plasticity, extending from fetal development into the immediate postnatal period during which pancreatic islets and neurons continue to mature.

“That’s why an altered nutritional experience during this critical period can independently modify the way certain organs in the body develop, resulting in programming effects that manifest later in life,” UB researcher Dr. Patel says. “During this critical period, the hypothalamus, which regulates appetite, becomes programmed to drive the individual to eat more food.

The Science

For more than 20 years, Patel and his UB colleagues have studied how the increased intake of carbohydrate-enriched calories just after birth can program individuals to overeat.

For this study, the UB researchers administered to newborn rat pups special milk formulas they developed that are either…

  1. Similar to rat breast milk in composition, (higher in fat-derived calories) or
  2. Enriched with carbohydrate-derived calories.

“These pups who were fed a high-carbohydrate milk formula are getting a different kind of nourishment than they normally would,” explains Patel, “which metabolically programs them to develop hyperinsulinemia, a precursor for obesity and type 2 diabetes.”

What happened to the baby rats?

At three weeks of age, the rat pups fed the high-carbohydrate (HC) formula were then weaned onto rat chow either with free access to food or with a moderate calorie restriction, so that their level of consumption would be the same as pups reared naturally.

“When food intake for the HC rats was controlled to a normal level, the pups grew at a normal rate, similar to that of pups fed by their mothers,” Patel says. “But we wanted to know, did that period of moderate calorie restriction cause the animals to be truly reprogrammed? We knew that the proof would come once we allowed them to eat ad libitum, without any restrictions.

“We found that when the HC rat undergoes metabolic reprogramming for development of obesity in early postnatal life, and then is subjected to moderate caloric restriction, similar to when an individual goes on a diet, the programming is only suppressed, not erased,” he says.

What does this mean to you?

  1. It may mean that you choose to breast feed your newborn
  2. It may mean that you choose baby formula with a macronutrient profile similar to breast milk
  3. It may mean that you ignore the study because it was performed on rats…and rats ain’t humans.

What happens if you choose #3?

According to the researchers, periods of moderate caloric restriction later in life cannot reverse the hypothalamic pro-obesity programming. This means that your little bundle of joy has a higher chance of becoming an obese adult…unless they choose to follow a calorie restricted diet for their entire life.

It’s your call Mom & Dad.



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A Plan to Reverse Childhood Obesity

In January 2012, the Ontario Government got serious about childhood obesity and created the multisectoral Healthy Kids Panel …asking them to sketch out a framework designed to help us reduce childhood obesity by 20 per cent within five years.

Here is what they came back with:

1. Start All Kids on the Path to Health

1.1 Educate women of child-bearing age about the impact of their health and weight on their own well-being and on the health and well-being of their children.
1.2 Enhance primary and obstetrical care to include a standard pre-pregnancy health check and wellness visit for women planning a pregnancy and their partners.
1.3 Adopt a standardized prenatal education curriculum and ensure courses are accessible and affordable for all women.
1.4 Support and encourage breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life.
1.5 Leverage well-baby and childhood immunization visits to promote healthy weights and enhance surveillance and early intervention.


2. Change the Food Environment

2.1 Ban the marketing of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, beverages and snacks to children under age 12.
2.2 Ban point-of-sale promotions and displays of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and beverages in retail settings, beginning with sugar-sweetened beverages.
2.3 Require all restaurants, including fast food outlets and retail grocery stores, to list the calories in each item on their menus and to make this information visible on menu boards.
2.4 Encourage food retailers to adopt transparent, easy-to-understand, standard, objective nutrition rating systems for the products in their stores.
2.5 Support the use of Canada’s Food Guide and the nutrition facts panel.
2.6 Provide incentives for Ontario food growers and producers, food distributors, corporate food retailers, and non-governmental organizations to support community-based food distribution programs.
2.7 Provide incentives for food retailers to develop stores in food deserts.
2.8 Establish a universal school nutrition program for all Ontario publicly funded elementary and secondary schools.
2.9 Establish a universal school nutrition program for First Nations communities.
2.10 Develop a single standard guideline for food and beverages served or sold where children play and learn.


3. Create Healthy Communities

3.1 Develop a comprehensive healthy kids social marketing program that focuses on healthy eating, active living – including active transportation – mental health and adequate sleep.
3.2 Join EPODE (Ensemble Prévenons l’Obesité des Enfants – Together Let’s Prevent Childhood Obesity) International and adopt a co-ordinated, communitydriven approach to developing healthy communities for kids.
3.3 Make schools hubs for child health and community engagement.
3.4 Create healthy environments for preschool children.
3.5 Develop the knowledge and skills of key professions to support parents in raising healthy kids.
3.6 Speed implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy.
3.7 Continue to implement the Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.
3.8 Ensure families have timely access to specialized obesity programs when needed.

Unfortunately,  Canadian media ignored the entire report, except for the proposed ban on marketing high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, beverages and snacks to children under age 12.

Instead of focusing on the health of our kids, they decided that the real story was the potential restriction of the rights of processed food producers to convince our children to crave ‘food’ that promotes obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Well done Canadian media…I’m looking forward to your next story on childhood obesity and how we have to do something about it.



It’s Official….Canada is Fat

As Canadians, one of our favorite pastimes is poking fun at America’s shortcomings…gun violence, PED scandals, obesity, etc…

Unfortunately, according to new research out of UBC, Canadian obesity levels are at an all-time high. True, they’re not at American levels yet, but darn it all…we’re trying to catch up.


  • Published today in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, Dr. Carolyn Gotay’s study provides the first comprehensive look at adult obesity rates across Canada since 1998, complete with “obesity maps.”


  • And according to Prof. Gotay, “Our analysis shows that more Canadians are obese than ever before – on average, between one fourth and one third of Canadians are obese, depending on the region.”

The Maritimes and the two Territories had the highest obesity rates from 2000 to 2011 – more than 30 per cent of the population in these regions is estimated to be obese. British Columbia had the lowest overall rates, but obesity still increased from less than 20 per cent to almost 25 per cent. Meanwhile, rates in Quebec remained below 24 per cent.


And if it wasn’t bad enough that we’re turning all blubbery thanks to our poutine addiction, Dr. Gotay also reported that “in Canada, the estimated cost of obesity to the economy was $4.6 billion in 2008, up approximately 20% from the year 2000.

And at a time when Canadian governments are scrambling to balance budgets, that $4.6 billion could sure come in handy.


Before my American readers think all us Canadians are giant A-Holes for making fun of American culture, please try to remember that living next door to the world’s superest superpower sometimes makes us just a wee bit defensive. Don’t take it personally, some of us have transcended this inferiority complex and love our American neighbors…warts and all.

BTW, I just wanted to congratulate you on finally realizing that the Canadian style of football is waaaayyyy better than the old “3 yards and a cloud of dust” NFL. Maybe RG3 et al can send some of their fat contract money up to the Saskatchewan RoughRiders.

The Immorality of Obesity

Last week, media mogul Rupert Murdoch pissed off a whole bunch of people with the following tweet about a woman in New York who suffered injuries when the sidewalk she was walking on collapsed out from under her.


Obesity apologists all around the twitterverse were freaking out…hunting and pecking out expletive-filled anti-Murdoch tweets and blog posts. It was a veritable orgy of obese indignation.

And yet…it got me thinking.

  • Why is it that so many people in our society feel free to mean so damn nasty to fat people?
  • Why is it a character flaw to be fat?

We all have bad habits. We all do things that aren’t 100% healthy for our bodies.

Even personal trainers like me.

For example, this past Saturday night, I spent about 5 hours…

  • sitting on my butt
  • watching Hockey Night in Canada
  • and drinking beer with friends and having one heck of a fun evening.

Does this make me a bad person?

Would it have made me a bad person if (instead of being an uber-healthy personal trainer) I had been that 400 lb woman who fell through the sidewalk?

Maybe it’s time we create a little separation between people and their actions.

Obesity and related lifestyle medical conditions ARE a significant medical problem….costing millions and millions of dollars. But instead of being a giant A-hole like Rupert Murdoch or a Fat-Apologist like the Jezebel blogger I linked to, maybe we should focus on the actions that have led to increased rates of obesity, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, etc…

  • Maybe we have a little more sympathy for people who make poor decisions,
  • And a little less sympathy for people who exploit those bad decisions for financial & political gain


Can You Lose Weight with Virtual Reality???

This new study flies in the face of my personal prejudices re video-gamers, but…. according to Dr. Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz, when an individual strongly identifies with their online avatar, that avatar can have a strong positive influence on that person’s health and appearance, and may lead to the creation of new forms of obesity treatment and help break down racial and sexual prejudices.

“The creation of an avatar allows an individual to try on a new appearance and persona, with little risk or effort,” said Dr. Behm-Morawitz. “That alter-ego can then have a positive influence on a person’s life.

For example, people seeking to lose weight could create fitter avatars to help visualize themselves as slimmer and healthier.”

The Science

  • Dr. Behm-Morawitz had 279 Second Life users answer a questionnaire about their engagement with their avatar and relationships they developed online, as well as their offline health, appearance and emotional well-being.
  • Self-presence, or the degree to which users experienced their avatars as an extension of themselves, was found to predict the influence of the avatar on people’s physical reality.
  • A strong sense of self-presence in the social virtual world positively promoted health and well-being of study participants. People with high degrees of self-presence in the cyber world reported that their experience with their avatar improved how they felt about themselves offline. Self-presence also correlated to greater satisfaction with online relationships.

Of course…there may be one giant flaw with this plan.

  • Individuals who strongly identify with their uber-fit avatars are probably spending a lot of time online as those avatars…and as we all know, sitting in front of a computer screen has direct connections to obesity, musculo-skeletal pain & overall poor health.

But then again…as computing power increases, who knows how avatar technology could be woven into our lives in a way that would actually encourage living a healthy life.

NOTE – Dr. Behm-Morawitz is in the process of researching “how avatars may be used to encourage tolerance of diversity. A person’s race, gender or ethnicity can be altered in the virtual reality world and they can be put into simulated situations where they suffer prejudice and discrimination.

And that is pretty darn cool.


An Amazing Real Life Weight Loss Story

The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar business. And to make sure that those billions keep rolling in, weight loss companies pay celebrities huge piles of cash to convince you that only they have the secret to rapid & permanent weight loss.

And I have to call BULLSHIT on that.

You want to know how to lose weight…. you need to talk to Pedro Oliva.

Pedro is a Twitter buddy of mine who has managed to radically transform his body/health/attitude over the past year. Here is his story…in his own words.

  • Q –  From your before & after picture, it’s obvious that you have lost a LOT of weight…how much and how long have you been working at it?

It’s been a year and I have rid over 100 lbs.

  • Q – Do you have a goal weight and if so, have you reached it?

My Goal weight is somewhere around 230. All time high was 385

  • Q – What changes (pro/con) have you experienced in your life as the pounds came off?

The pros are way more energy, I’m more active. The cons is some of the loose skin.

  • Q – What made you decide to lose the weight?

My kids are my inspiration. I did not want to die young.

  • Q – What made your efforts so successful?

I gave up soda. I was a huge soda drinker, also gave up fried foods.

  • Q – What tips would you give to someone who has tried to lose weight but has never been successful?

Stay focused and give yourself little goals. Take your time, results will come

  • Q – What’s more important to you…weight or health?

Health, being alive is the key

  • Q – Did you follow a specific diet?

I try to eat the right foods, lots of chicken and fish, vegetables

  • Q – Do you still follow that diet?

I do but some times I reward myself.

  • Q – Anything else you want to add?

Do not let anyone say you can’t do it alone. I am proof you can if you dedicate yourself and have a realistic approach, this will not happen overnight.


Childhood Obesity: Bruised Feelings v.s. Logic

Childhood obesity is a significant health issue in America and around the world.

Unfortunately for America’s little butterballs, they live in a world where….

  1. Everyone want quick fixes to complex problems
  2. Gov’t & NGOs think that education is the cure-all for obesity & related diseases
  3. Way too many people feel that their bruised feelings trump logic & common sense.

Exhibit #1

Minnesota Blue Cross released the following two videos as part of their ‘Better Example’ anti-obesity campaign. The gist of the videos is that parents need to start setting a better example for their kids by making healthier food choices.

Makes sense to me….parents eat junk food…kids eat junk food…parents eat healthy food…kids eat healthy food…parents are lazy…kids are lazy…parents are physically active…kids are physically active.

Monkey see Monkey do….Unfortunately, not everyone sees it this way.

Some people see this anti-obesity campaign as:

  • A personal attack directed at them

I know no one will ever believe me when I say this, so fine. Whatever. But since, apparently, this isn’t evident even among health professionals churning out ad campaigns, I do not fucking eat chocolate cereal and buckets of ice cream. Here is what I actually do: Pretty much every morning before work I walk 1.1 miles uphill to a coffee shop, which is across the street from the organic co-op where I do all my grocery shopping. I eat normal, human amounts of unprocessed, fresh, largely local foods. I have no mobility problems. I have flawless cholesterol and blood pressure. I never get colds, I have never been hospitalized. I have a great job, I make a good living, I’m in an incredibly happy relationship. Sometimes I eat dessert, sometimes I don’t. I pay taxes. I take care of my family. I do not commit crimes. I’m nice to strangers. In general, I think you could say that I contribute more to the world than I take out of it.

And I’m a fucking epidemic? I’m a problem?

You have the gall to make generalizations about my life because, in your eyes, I superficially resemble a massive, diverse swath of the population whose lives you’ve also deigned to generalize? Whose complex, painful, messy, joyous lives you’ve boiled down to, “Har har too many Cheetos”? Please.

Even if I did eat a bucket of pancake-flavored ice cream for breakfast, burrito ice cream for lunch, and salisbury steak ice cream for dinner (OMPH GROMPH GROMPH), I still shouldn’t have to justify my existence to the world in the way I just did. But the fact that I exist, and I am not the sinister straw-fatty pictured in the above commercial—doesn’t it seem likely that there are other fat people like me out there who also aren’t lying about their lifestyles? And in that case, isn’t this commercial FUCKING USELESS NONSENSE? Congratulations! You guys totally “got serious” and took down not-the-problem-at-all.

Lindy West – Jezebel

  • Systemic prejudice against obese people

There have always been fat people. There are fat people like me, who hardly ever eat any processed foods. There are fat people with glandular issues. There are disabled fat people who would love to exercise but can’t. There are healthy fat people. And sure, there are fat people who—fuck it—just really really like Cheetos. Guess what? Those people are allowed to exist too! There are a million different kinds of fat people in the world because FAT PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. And kids are people. And if your solution to this “problem” is telling already vulnerable fat kids that they’re an epidemic that’s ruining the world, then fuck you.

Sheeeeesh…what a cry-baby.

She actually makes some cogent arguments about how America’s food production & distribution companies need to accept responsibility for creating an obesogenic marketplace, but she totally blows it by whining about how mean everyone is being to her.

The Facts…as I see ’em

  • Obesity is caused by a mixture of nature & nurture
  • We can’t do anything about nature – your DNA is your DNA – deal with it
  • We can do something about nurture – develop Health Habits
  • The world is full of a-holes who like to insult people based on their obesity, skin color, sexuality, height, lack of hair, abundance of hair, clothing, musical preferences, etc…

Quit acting like a victim, take responsibility for your life and grow a thicker skin


Is Your Brain Hardwired to Make You Fat?

In a recent study, researchers have found that “obese prone” (aka chubby) individuals are more likely to have lower gray matter volume in the insula, medial orbitofrontal cortex and cerebellum than those individuals who describe themselves as “obese resistant” (aka skinny).

Looking specifically at the insula region of the brain, the researchers found that insula gray matter volume was negatively correlated with leptin concentration..

And as we know from a bunch of studies, low leptin levels are associated with increased feelings of hunger and the consumption of massive quantities of nacho chips.

This research dovetails nicely with previous research linking the insula region of the brain to addictive cravings – cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, etc. So, it’s not too surprising that it’s linked to over-eating as well.


The Researchers – “These findings suggest that individuals at risk for weight gain have structural differences in brain regions known to be important in energy intake regulation, and that these differences, particularly in the insula, may be related to leptin”.

MineSo what!!! Genetic causes are irrelevant to everyone except for the scientists looking for a “cure”. If your brain structure makes you prone to overeating and obesity, that’s just your (and my) bad luck. Unless you’re a neurosurgeon willing to operate on yourself, the structure of your insula is pretty much set.

Start eating & moving smarter.


TV and Your Child’s Health

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but….when a group of researchers recently reviewed 12 studies in which the relationship between television viewing and diet was assessed in children between the ages of 2 and 6….”all but one study reported significant relationship between television viewing time and adverse dietary outcomes“.

  • More tv viewing = less fruit & vegetable consumption
  • More tv viewing = increased caloric consumption

And as if this wasn’t bad enough…the researchers concluded that these “adverse dietary outcomes occurred with as little as 1 hour of daily television exposure“.

1 HOUR!!!

  • The message to parents?
  • Stop plunking your three year old down in front of the tv.


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White Fat – Beige Fat – Brown Fat

Obesity researchers around the world are all in a tizzy over beige fat.

  • Last month, I introduced you to this waist-reducing super-fat
  • This month, we have a new study which is looking for a way to convert your energy-storing white fat cells into energy-burning / heat producing beige fat cells.

Here’s what we know now…

  • Based on previous research, the researchers already knew that brown fat needs the neurotransmitter cGMP to do what it does.
  • And according to new findings, they know that this is also true for beige fat.
  • We also know that vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (VASP) plays an essential role as a switch on the VASP/cGMP signaling pathway that slows down the formation of white fat cells into beige fat cells.

From all of this… the researchers believe that if they can manipulate this signaling pathway, they can regulate the beige fat and if they can regulate the beige fat…they can regulate the size of your belly

So Now What?

In this latest study, the researchers “engineered” a bunch of VASP deficient lab mice.

Upon studying the VASP deficient mice, they found:

  1. The mice had an enhanced responses to cold exposure (indicative of increased brown adipose tissue function)
  2. Their white adipose tissue showed evidence of “browning,” a process in which white fat cells acquire the characteristics of brown or beige fat cells.

As a result, the VASP deficient mice were ripped.

Additionally, the results also suggest that VASP could be targeted by drugs “to enhance metabolism by stimulating the energy-dissipating activity of brown adipose tissue and making white adipose tissue behave like brown”.

Long story short…. drug companies around the world are going to be jumping all over this.


I Can Make You Pre-Diabetic in 7 Days

Two weeks ago, I told you about the series of Frankenstein-like diet/blood sugar/insulin experiments that I am conducting on one of my personal training clients-  in the article Make Insulin Your Friend… and Get Leaner, Stronger & Healthier.

This week, I am going to show you the results of the first experiment and tell you how I took my human guinea-pig and made him Pre-Diabetic in less than 7 days.

Experiment #1 – The “Normal” Diet

I asked my client / test-subject to:

  1. Stop his normal exercise routine (allowed to go on nightly walks with his wife)
  2. Eat like a “normal” person…. ie I told him that he could eat whatever he wants, whenever he wants with no concern for nutrition.

[box type=”note”]I told him not to pig out on junk food – just to eat like the other people in his office. In fact, he modeled his diet after one of his co-workers – a 190 lb, skinny-fat kind of guy.[/box]

Here are some examples of what he ate last week.


  • Bowl of Rice Krispies and a mug of coffee, or
  • Buttered bagel & coffee, or
  • Egg McMuffin with Hash Brown and coffee
  • 1 Donut & coffee


  • Sandwich, Coke & cookie, or
  • Slice of pizza and bottle of water
  • Rice, veg & chicken from food court Chinese place
Afternoon Snack


  • Pizza, salad and a beer
  • Pasta & garlic bread and a glass of wine
  • Steak stir-fry with rice & tons of veg

Blood Test Info

I had him test his blood throughout the day using a blood glucose monitor (supplied free of charge by Roche Diagnostics):

  • Upon waking – fasted blood test
  • Before eating
  • 2 hours after eating
  • Before bed

[box type=”important”]What we found is that other than the fasted blood test (taken first thing in the morning), his blood sugar levels were moving around too much to come to any sort of conclusion…so we’re just going to report on the fasted blood tests[/box]

Blood Test Results

  • His pre-experiment fasted blood sugar levels ranged from 4.4 to 4.7.
  • His pre-experiment diet is a modified Paleo-style diet where he is allowed to eat potatoes and small amounts of legumes
During the experiment, his fasted blood sugar levels were as follows:
  • Day 1: 5.5 mmol/L
  • Day 2: 5.9 mmol/L
  • Day 3: 6.2 mmol/L
  • Day 4: 6.4 mmol/L
  • Day 5: 6.5 mmol/L
  • Day 6: 6.9 mmol/L
  • Day 7: 6.7 mmol/L

And as you can see from the chart, this places our test-subject squarely in the Pre-Diabetes range…on his way to full-blown Type 2 Diabetes.

All in one week.

Not good.

And he felt like crap the whole week.

  • Waking up with a headache 5 of the 7 days
  • Craving carbs like crazy
  • Never feeling full, while…
  • Often feeling nauseous

At the end of the week, he was glad to go back to eating healthy


This week, we are experimenting with a grain-free diet.

I will post the results next week.

Capsaicin for Weight Loss

I’ve got some interesting research for everyone out there trying to drop a few pounds.

Published in the journal Obesity, researchers have found that topical application of 0.075% capsaicin to male mice fed a high-fat diet significantly reduced weight gain and visceral fat.  In addition…

  • Fat cells were markedly smaller in the mesenteric and epididymal adipose tissues of mice treated with capsaicin cream.
  • The capsaicin treatment also lowered serum levels of fasting glucose, total cholesterol, and triglycerides
  • increased expression of adiponectin and other adipokines – leading to increased fat burning and insulin sensitivity
  • and reduced expression of tumor necrosis factor-α and IL-6 – leading to reduced inflammation

fat mouse skinny mouse obesity longevity


In short, the “hot sauce” mice lost weight and got healthier.

Note – This research is very, very, very preliminary and it will be a while before human research is conducted.

However, nothing is stopping you from buying a tube of 0.075% capsaicin and smearing it on your jelly-belly and love handles. But remember, if you’re going to play lab rat, make sure not to get the capsaicin cream into your eyes…that’s gonna sting.

Is capsaicin safe?

According to WebMD, experts in the United States generally consider capsaicin to be safe. But it can cause some unpleasant effects, especially for those who are not used to it.

Begin with small amounts, and increase the amount as you get used to it. You can put the creams on your skin up to 4 times a day. You may feel a burning or itching sensation the first few times you use the cream, but this will gradually decrease with each use.

Wash your hands thoroughly after each use to avoid getting the cream in your eyes or on other moist mucous membranes, where it can cause a burning sensation. Do not use the cream on areas of broken skin.[/box]


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Just Say NO to Bread Back

Bread Back is defined as “the loaf of back fat between a woman’s bra and her underwear”. (ref: 30 Rock)

Older women have bread back

Your Anti Back Fat Prescription

What the Heck is Beige Fat and What Can it Do for You?

For years now, obesity researchers have been teasing us with promises of converting white fat (aka your love-handles) into calorie-burning, 6-pack making brown fat.

But now, it turns out that most of that brown fat they found in adult test subjects isn’t brown fat at all – it’s BEIGE FAT.

Beige fat  looks like brown fat and it has the calorie burning abilities of brown fat, but it ain’t brown fat.



A Primer on Body-Fat

It turns out, adults have 3 different types of body-fat:

  • White fat – which stores calories and contributes to obesity
  • Brown fat – initially thought to exist only in babies, brown fat arises from infant muscles and is designed to help keep their little baby-bodies warm. “More recent imaging data suggested that adults, too, maintain some brown fat’.
  • Beige fat – similar looking to brown fat, beige fat doesn’t come from muscle, but is created by the “browning” of white fat in adult humans. It is found in “scattered pea-sized deposits beneath the skin near the collarbone and along the spine in adults”.

What is Beige Fat and What Can it Do for You?

We’ve already established that beige fat is created by the “browning” of white fat cells. And that it looks pretty much identical to brown fat.

But with this new study, we now know that beige fat cells are “genetically somewhere in between white fat and brown fat”.

At baseline, beige fat cells have low levels of uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) – a protein required by mitochondria to burn calories and generate heat – similar to white fat. But the beige cells also have a remarkable ability to ramp up their UCP1 expression, turning on an energy-burning program – enabling beige fat to burn calories nearly as effectively as brown fat.

And here’s where it gets really interesting…

The team also found that beige cells respond to a hormone known as irisin to turn on the energy-burning program. That’s particularly notable because irisin is released from muscle with exercise, and it is responsible for some of the benefits that physical activity brings.

Irisin might just be the long-sought treatment aimed to increase those coveted energy-burning fat cells. In addition to the therapeutic potential, the new findings might also lead to new and better ways to characterize important differences amongst people in the numbers of beige cells they carry.

How cool is that???


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I am the difference between fatness and fitness


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A Last-Minute, Super-Effective Fat Burning Diet…that may actually be healthy for you

Today’s post is for everyone who:

  • Got fat over the winter
  • And forgot that summer, shorts, t-shirts and bathing suits were just around the corner

Today is June 20…and summer starts tonight.

If your belly looks like the before picture, you need to get serious and follow the rules I am going to lay out below.

RULE #1 – You’re going to need to cut calories

  • Total calories per day are NOT to exceed 12 calories per pound of lean body mass

Note – Lean body mass (LBM), is how much you weight without any fat – This is calculated by subtracting your fat mass (bodyfat % x bodyweight) from your total weight.
Ex. 200 lbs weight – 50 lbs fat (200 x 25% body-fat) = 150 lbs LBM  – 150 lbs x 12 = 1800 calories

RULE #2 – You’re going to increase your protein and decrease your carbs. We need to control insulin

  • Eat between 1 and 1.5 grams of protein per pound of LBM

>Ex. Our 150 lb LBM guinea-pig needs to consume between 150 and 225 grams of protein per day (600 – 900 calories).

RULE #3 – You need to eat FAT.

  • I want you eating 20% of your calories as fat. That can come from your sources of protein and/or supplementation with healthy oils – fish, flax, coconut

Ex. Our 150 lb LBM guinea-pig needs to eat 360 calories / 40 grams of fat per day (1800 x 0.2)

RULE #4 – The majority of your Carb Calories are to be eaten before/during/after your workouts

Our 150 lb LBM guinea-pig is eating 1800 total calories  (600-900 cal of protein &  360 fat). This leaves 540 – 840 calories for carbs.

My recommendation is that you eat:

  • Lower Carbs/Higher Protein on your Low Intensity workout days, and
  • Higher Carbs / Lower Protein on your High Intensity workout days

For more info on workout nutrition, check out this article – Peri-Workout Nutrition

The idea is that fast absorbing / nutrient dense carbs (rice, sugar, etc) are eaten to fuel/re-fuel your workouts and that the rest of the day, your carbs are limited to crunchy vegetables – greens, cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, etc.

RULE #5 – Schedule a cheat meal once per week – don’t count calories, eat what you want, don’t feel guilty. I’m not saying eat until you make yourself sick, but feel free to chow down on all the food you’ve been day dreaming about.

RULE #6 – Keep hydrated – thirst disguises itself as hunger – keep hydrated!!!

RULE #7 – Try and make this plan fit into YOUR lifestyle.

  • Prepare meals in advance
  • Measure / weigh foods – you gotta do it!!!
  • Stick to a small number of foods – a varied diet increases caloric consumption and it will make your prep easier if you’re not calculating calories of new foods in each meal
  • Eat when you’re hungry
  • Get your friends & family on board with your plan
  • Reward yourself – If you stick to your diet all day, you get to watch that cheesy reality tv show no one knows you watch – if you cheat, you have to delete it from TiVo

RULE #8 – Pay attention to your body and modify the diet if needed.

  • This is a blueprint designed to “sorta” fit everybody.
  • But your DNA, lifestyle, history with food isn’t the same as mine.

Make small tweaks – increasing/decreasing protein or carbs, more calories on training days and less on non-training days may work best for you – and pay attention to how your body responds.

RULE #9 – Take a multi-vitamin or two per day

  • Your calories have been lowered,
  • you will be oxidizing fat like crazy
  • we need to keep your micro-nutrient levels nice and high

RULE #10 – This is a short-term eating plan

Don’t hesitate to tweet me or leave a comment if you have questions.

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The Cure for Obesity : FOX01, Gpr17 and Your Hypothalamus???

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have identified a brain receptor (FOX01) that appears to play a central role in regulating appetite.

“We’ve identified a receptor that is intimately involved in regulating food intake,” said study leader Domenico Accili, MD. “What is especially encouraging is that this receptor belongs to a class of receptors that turn out to be good targets for drug development, making it a highly ‘druggable’ target. In fact, several existing medications already seem to interact with this receptor. So, it’s possible that we could have new drugs for obesity sooner rather than later.”

What is FOX01…How did they find it… and what does it do???

Previous research on the hypothalamus region of the brain suggest that the hypothalamus regulates appetite via a neuropeptide (brain regulator) called AgRP.

Unfortunately, up to this point, we don’t have a firm grip on the factors that influence AgRP expression.

In this study, the researchers “found new clues to appetite control by tracing the actions of insulin and leptin. Both hormones are involved in maintaining the body’s energy balance, and both are known to inhibit AgRP. “Surprisingly, blocking either the insulin or leptin signaling pathway has little effect on appetite,” says Dr. Accili. “We hypothesized that both pathways have to be blocked simultaneously in order to influence feeding behavior.”

To test this hypothesis, they engineered a strain of lab mice whose AgRP neurons lack the FOX01 protein. They focused on FOX01 because it is integral to insulin & leptin secretion and therefore should have a strong effect on appetite.

What happened when they got rid of the FOX01?

“The mice that lack Fox01 ate less and were leaner than normal mice,” said lead author Hongxia Ren, PhD. “In addition, the Fox01-deficient mice had better glucose balance and leptin and insulin sensitivity — all signs of a healthier metabolism.”

Alright, now we’re on to something…what’s next?

Unfortunately…. Fox01 is a poor drug target…. so the researchers searched for other ways to inhibit it.

Using gene-expression profiling, they discovered that the gene Gpr17 is highly expressed in mice with normal AgRP neurons but is effectively silenced in mice with Fox01-deficient neurons.

To confirm that the Gpr17 receptor is involved in appetite control, the researchers injected a Gpr17 activator into normal mice, and their appetite increased. Conversely, when the mice were given a Gpr17 inhibitor, their appetite decreased. Similar injections had no effect on Fox01-deficient mice.

What does all this science stuff mean to ME and my Jelly-Belly???

According to Dr. Accili, since Grp17 is part of the so-called G-protein-coupled receptor family, it greatly increases the odds of actually creating and effective anti-obesity drug.

  • About a third of all existing drugs work through G-protein-coupled receptors.
  • And the receptor is abundant in AgRP neurons but not in other neurons, which should limit unwanted drug side effects.
Of course, we’re probably still years and years away from a drug being on the market…if at all.



Why is America so Fat

The Free Market Doesn’t Give a Shit About Your Health…

… and why should they?

McDonald’s isn’t your Mommy.

  • They prepare food
  • You buy it
  • Their stock price tripled in the past 8 years
  • As did the ass size of the typical McDonald’s customer.

Unfortunately for fast food restaurants, childhood (and adult) obesity has become a major medical, political & social issue.



A big enough issue that at the most recent McDonald’s shareholder meeting, a small group of shareholders came forward to say that “McDonald’s can no longer ignore the spiraling costs of its business practices on our children’s health and on our healthcare system. This issue is not only critical to the health and well-being of generations to come, but also to shareholders who should be better informed about the liabilities associated with the businesses they’re investing in.”

The resolution would compel the Board of Directors to assess how the growing body of evidence linking fast food and its marketing with diet-related conditions will impact McDonald’s finances and operations.

In response to the proposal, McDonald’s board of directors recommended a “no” vote on the proposal, calling it “unnecessary and redundant.”

  • 93.6% of McDonald’s shareholders agreed and voted NO.

Hmmmm…. a cynical person might assume that 93.6% of McDonald’s shareholders and the entire board of directors already know how McDonald’s menu & marketing practices impacts childhood obesity…and they don’t want to see their profits, share prices and performance bonuses get hammered by the truth.

  • And why would they?
  • Their job isn’t keeping our kids healthy.
  • That’s our job.

Just know that McDonald’s (and KFC, DQ, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s, etc) doesn’t give a shit about your health or the health of your children.


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The Weight of the Nation : Change Maker or Obesity Porn?

As America’s problem with obesity grows…

  • The cost of medical treatment grows…
  • The cost to the economy grows…
  • The cost to our quality of life grows…
  • And the opportunity to make a ton of money grows

As a result of these 4 issues, obesity has grown from a quasi-medical issue into a topic worthy of mainstream media and HBO documentaries.

[box type=”important”]And as much as I think all of this attention focused on obesity is vital to instigating change… I wonder if we will ever develop the public will required to combat the money being spent by companies who make their profits from overeating.[/box]

Because if we are ever going to reverse our current obesity epidemic, it’s going to take a whole bunch of ordinary people making their voices and choices heard.

  • Lobbying politicians to put their public need ahead of corporate want
  • Making better food choices for their families
  • Organizing to help make neighborhood playgrounds safe for our kids
  • Telling food producers to stop overdosing us with sugar, salt & chemicals
  • Getting off our collective asses and leading by example

And documentaries like The Weight of the Nation may help to spark this type of change.

But then again, maybe this new wave of obesity awareness is nothing more than obesity porn… where we are shocked & awed by all those gross fat people who can’t muster the willpower to walk past McDonalds.

Forget Carbon Taxes…Fat Taxes are coming

For the past couple of years, I have been saying that Fat Taxes are coming.

And not because our political leaders are overly concerned about our collective beer belly.

Fat taxes are coming because:

  1. Governments love problems that give them an excuse to raise taxes.
  2. Obesity is fast becoming the sort of economic and “moral” problem that allows them raise taxes – ala the sin taxes on cigarettes and alcohol.

In the U.S., New York City, California and other jurisdictions have been discussing various forms of fat taxes and fast food restaurant bans for the past couple of years.

In Europe, Denmark has a fat tax focused on saturated fat, Hungarians pay a tax on foods with high fat, sugar and salt content, as well as increased tariffs on soda and alcohol and the French have slapped a tax on soda…and are talking about broadening the legislation.

And now…the Brits are talking about putting a 20% tax on ALL “unhealthy” foods…


…all thanks to 2 new papers published in the British Medical Journal


In these new reports, the researchers reference modelling studies which predict that a 20% tax on sugary drinks in the US would reduce obesity levels by 3.5%, and suggest that extending VAT (at 17.5%) to unhealthy foods in the UK could cut up to 2700 heart disease deaths a year.

As well as bring in a boatload of money for the government coffers.

Which is why the authors also recommend that the taxes be used to raise funds to treat diet related diseases, subsidise healthy foods, or to stimulate industry reformulation of food (such as removal of salt, sugar, or saturated fats from foods).

Kind of like I was saying…

Personally, I am skeptical whether governments will be able to resist their natural urge to plow all that fat tax money into the general coffers…but we’ll see.

And we’re going to see pretty darn soon…in fact, I am willing to bet that in the next couple of years, we will see fat taxes all across Europe & North America.

It’s a no-brainer…governments bloated with debt solve their financial woes by taxing citizens bloated with cellulite.


War on Obesity : Doctors vs Government

All across the over-developed world, our collective fatness has become a major health/political/financial/media issue.

And according to the new organization representing nearly every doctor in the UK….the British government has essentially sold out the health of its citizens to the junk food industry… and British docs don’t plan on letting it happen anymore.

Citing the governments policy of “inviting” fast food companies to help write government policy on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease, the medical community has found it necessary to stand up, call out the government for their poor healthcare decisions and begin charting a medical-based strategy for their country’s war against obesity.

AoMRC spokesman Prof Stephenson said: “Every doctor I’ve ever spoken to feels obesity is a huge problem for the UK population.”

He said a united voice had “more of a chance” of tacking obesity.

The first phase of the campaign will try to find out what works. It will review evidence for diets, exercise, taxation, minimum pricing, changing advertising and food labelling, which medical procedures work and how children are educated.

And here’s where it gets interesting….

Recommendations could target food companies who sponsor major sporting events – such as the Olympics – and fast food outlets which operate close to schools.

In case you didn’t know, London is hosting the Olympics this summer.

And I don’t think British politicians want the medical community equating Olympic sponsorship with the fastest growing threat to the health of Britains.

Let the battle begin.


  • AOMRC – Obesity Steering Group
  • BBC

Childhood Obesity : A Primer for Parents

Having an obese child doesn’t make you a bad parent.

  • Uninformed : MAYBE
  • Bad : NO
  1. Processed food producers spend an ungodly amount of money learning what type of foods encourage overeating…and over-purchasing. Sugars, fats, processing techniques, flavor enhancing chemicals, etc.
  2. In addition to the bio-chemsitry, then spend big bucks on neuro-psychology to determine how your eyes and brain can be manipulated while you shop. Believe it or not, there is a lot of science behind product placement and purchasing decisions.
  3. Moving on to the science of manipulation, our food producers also spend huge amounts of money creating and delivering marketing campaigns aimed directly at your kids….knowing that if they get them while they’re young, they will have them for life. Creepy – YES…but also very effective.
  4. And if that wasn’t enough, they also spend a lot of money employing lobbyists to protect their interests within government, generate massive food subsidies and to block any legislation limiting their influence over our kids.

Put it all together and it’s not too surprising that our kids keep getting fatter and fatter.

Luckily, there are solutions.

  • Informed parents can make better food and activity choices for their kids.
  • Informed parents can tell their government that they don’t like advertising directed at their pre-pubescent children.
  • Informed parents can bring attention (thank you social media) to the political manipulation that makes a mockery of the Free Market.
  • Informed parents can talk to other parents and local government to improve access to healthy foods in their neighborhood.
  • Informed parents can take advantage of existing grants and support organizations to improve the walkability and “playability” of their neighborhoods

And how does a parent get informed?

Here’s a good place to start.

Other Resources

Childhood Obesity : Monkey See Monkey Do

Attention Parents!!!

Researchers have discovered the cure for childhood obesity.

Unfortunately for your addiction to stuffed-crust pizza…..the cure is for YOU to lose weight FIRST.

“We looked at things such as parenting skills and styles, or changing the home food environment, and how they impacted a child’s weight,” said Kerri N. Boutelle, PhD. “The number one way in which parents can help an obese child lose weight is to lose weight themselves. In this study, it was the most important predictor of child weight loss.

Parents are the most significant people in a child’s environment, serving as the first and most important teachers,” said Boutelle “They play a significant role in any weight-loss program for children, and this study confirms the importance of their example in establishing healthy eating and exercise behaviors for their kids.”

The Science

80 parent-child groups with an 8-12 year old overweight or obese child were enrolled into either:

  • A parent-only treatment program, or a
  • Parent + child treatment program

Both programs ran for 5 months and focused on evaluating the impact of three types of parenting skills taught in family-based behavioral treatment for childhood obesity, and the impact of each on the child’s body weight:

  • the parent modeling behaviors to promote their own weight loss,
  • changes in home food environment, and
  • parenting style and techniques (for example, a parent’s ability to help limit the child’s eating behavior, encouraging the child and participating in program activities)

The Results?

Consistent with previously published research, parent BMI change was the only significant predictor of child’s weight loss.


Monkey See : Monkey Do

If your kid is obese and you’re worried about their future, it’s up to YOU to do something about it.


Exercise Reduces Appetite

Researchers from UMASS have found that 60 minutes of exercise on a cycle ergometer reduced the neuronal responses in the part of your brain consistent with:

  1. Reduced pleasure of food,
  2. Reduced incentive motivation to eat, and
  3. Reduced anticipation and consumption of food.

In essence, exercise prevents your brain from telling you to eat.

So, how come I know a ton of people who exercise 5 days a week and still can’t manage to drop their extra body-fat?

Because scientific research ≠ real life.

  • Scientific research has to be precise.
  • Real life is anything but precise. It involves emotions and peer pressure and hormones and tv commercial for stuffed crust pizza and a whole bunch of other stuff designed to make you eat and eat and eat.

So, what can we take from this study?

If you’re feeling hungry and you want to squash that hunger, get up off your butt and go for a brisk 20 minute walk. Odds are, you’ll get those neurons working in your favor and your hunger will fade away.

And even if it doesn’t, the exercise will do your body good anyway.


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QNEXA: Money & Politics v.s. Science & Common Sense

In July of 2010, Qnexa, the first new prescription weight-loss pill in more than a decade, failed to win backing from U.S. health advisers, who said safety concerns about the drug outweighed its ability to help obese patients shed pounds.

The FDA vote was 10 : 6 against Qnexa.

The Feds said no to Qnexa because of the following side effects:

  • Depression,
  • Anxiety,
  • Increased heart rate combined with lowered blood pressure,
  • Increased body acids,
  • Impaired attention span,
  • Psychomotor slowing resulting  in difficulty finding the correct words
  • Impaired memory, and

Not too surprisingly, the FDA asked Vivus (the maker of Qnexa) to go back to the lab and come back with a safer product.

Since that time:

  1. The drug has not been modified
  2. The FDA has been under a ton of pressure from politicians & lobby groups to “re-think” their position on Qnexa.

Fortunately for the American public, the FDA is a little gun shy about approving obesity medications known to have heart damaging side effects ever since the whole Fen-Phen death debacle of the 1990s.

Unfortunately for the American public, it looks like the possibility of a new multi-billion dollar fat drug combined with affordable political influence is beating the hell out of common sense and scientific integrity.

On Feb.22 of this year, a new FDA advisory panel voted 20-2 in favor of the approval of Qnexa. The exact same drug that was turned down a year and a half earlier.

How come?

As a condition for approval of Qnexa, the FDA and the drugmaker Vivus proposed:

  • A restrictive program to stop pregnant women from taking the drug,
  • A Qnexa training program for doctors,
  • Limited distribution to certified mail-order pharmacies.

Also, the drug will likely only be recommended for obese patients who have a body mass index over 30, or are overweight but have weight-related health issues.

And if that isn’t enough for those hard-asses at the FDA, Vivus has offered to start a new four-year trial of the affect of Qnexa on cardiac health….sometime after the FDA votes to grant formal approval of Qnexa.

REPEAT: After FDA approval has been given

They’ve offered to test how their drug affects your heart after you’ve already started your prescription.


And if this wasn’t stupid enough

Because Qnexa is a combination of two already approved drugs (the stimulant phentermine and the epilepsy drug topiramate), it is possible for doctors to sidestep the whole Qnexa/FDA issue by writing scripts for both drugs and marketing themselves as weight loss gurus.

The only thing holding them back would be that pesky Hippocratic oath.


NOTE – The FDA is supposed to vote on the approval of Qnexa on April 17, 2012….stay tuned



The reason why big government "healthy lifestyle" programs don't work is…

…because they think education is the answer.

And while I am a big fan of education, I am pretty sure that the majority of us know that:

  • Exercise is healthier than watching tv
  • Vegetables are healthier than pizza
  • Meditation is healthier than obsessing over that idiot who cut you off in traffic
  • Drinking a glass of wine with dinner is healthier than downing a bottle by yourself
  • Socializing with friends is healthier than being a loner
  • Stretching tight muscles is healthier than sitting all night after sitting all day at work

We already know this stuff…..and yet, we eat junk food, watch too much tv and barely get any exercise.


Education by itself didn’t reduce the number of smokers.

It took education + higher taxes + municipal bylaws restricting public smoking + a whole lot of shaming from non-smokers who finally felt empowered enough to tell someone to butt out.

And if we want to reduce the healthcare costs attributable to poor lifestyle choices – obesity, diabetes, heart disease, alzheimers, cancer, etc…. we need to do more than education.

Image: http://www.glasbergen.com


Advice for everyone who screwed up their diet yesterday

Today is a brand new day.

Yesterday’s screw-ups are in the past. Obsessing over it isn’t going to reverse time – but it might lower your level of “feel good” hormones and make you more likely to pig out again today.

Today is a brand new day….so be good to yourself by feeding your body the food that it NEEDS.

Give it the physical activity that it NEEDS

And give yourself a break.

Catastrophizing your diet slip-up isn’t going to help.

Ask yourself why you ate that entire pizza, learn from it and move on.

Today is a brand new day….and you get a do-over my friend.


NYC Escalates War Against Childhood Obesity

New York City’s Department of Health & Human Services has escalated their war against childhood obesity with their latest  ad campaign urging New Yorkers to be more aware of portion sizes – and how they have increased – when choosing what to eat or drink.

Their concern is that the quantity of food served in a “medium” or “large” order is significantly greater today than in previous years.

In the last 50 years, for example, the serving sizes of sugary drinks quadrupled and french fries nearly tripled. With a few casual selections, a single meal could balloon to contain many more calories than the amount an adult needs for an entire day.

And based on the “growth” of our kids over the past few decades, I would have to agree

For more info, check out their Portion Size Fact Sheet, or check out a whole pile of awesome Health Habits articles on childhood obesity.

The Rob Ford Weight Loss Program

Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford is a big man.

And not just in a political “big man around town” kind of way, but in a 300+ lbs of former football player turned politician kind of way.

And in keeping with his political promise to stop the excessive “gravy train” spending at City Hall, the Mayor may be extending that agenda to include his own personal Gravy Train.

In an interview with Newstalk 1010, the mayor’s big brother (Councillor Doug Ford) said that the mayor is considering making a New Year’s resolution to drop some of his excess girth.

“In the new year, there is a chance, we could be seeing a slimmer, trimmer version of Toronto’s Mayor. Going further, the Councillor suggested that it’d be a good idea, and even suggested that he himself would join in and try and lose a few extra pounds. To add to the challenge, he suggested that they could make it a fundraiser, or a competition with proceeds going to a charity”.

So, as a public service to my home town, I’m gonna help the Mayor out.

I’ve decided that my next series of Best Body Workouts will be designed for trainees who need to make significant transformations to their health & physique.

  • Weight Loss
  • Cardiac Function
  • Pain caused by Muscular Imbalances
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • and generally feeling tired and crappy all the time

The program will include:

  • Daily Exercise Tips
  • 3 Custom Health Habits Workouts per week
  • Daily Nutrition / Diet Suggestions with links to recipes
  • Additional suggestions regarding motivation, supplements, physical therapies, etc…

And because I love my city so much, I will also have some suggestions of how a program such as this can and should be made available to all Torontonians

For now, I would like to suggest that the Mayor and his brother download my FREE eBook – A Paleo Diet for the 21st Century as well as take  a look at the Best Body workouts that I have been posting throughout 2011.

The Economics of Obesity

Billions of dollars are spent every year on treating obesity and it’s related health conditions. Unfortunately, only a teeny tiny fraction of that money is spent on OBESITY PREVENTION.

Which is weird considering that obesity is largely a result of poor lifestyle choices.

For example….

  • In Canada, it’s estimated that the cost of obesity (2008 numbers) rose to a staggering $7.1 billion.
  • Based on population data, the province of Ontario’s share of that cost is approximately $2.75 billion
  • And yet, it’s department of Health Promotion & Sport has a total annual budget of $470 million
  • Of which, only $4.3 million is spent on nutrition & healthy eating.


  • Obesity cost to Ontario:  $2, 754,8000,000
  • Amount spent by Ontario gov’t to encourage healthy eating:  $4,324,400

Does this make sense to you?

Back in the olden days, my Grandma used to tell me that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. As a six year old, I had no idea what the heck she was talking about.

My guess is that whoever’s paying for these obesity costs still hasn’t figured it out.


BTW, it’s us paying the cost



Is Obesity Child Abuse?

An eight year old Cleveland boy was recently taken from his family and placed in foster care after case workers said that his mother wasn’t doing enough to control his weight.

The child in question is over 200 lbs – the average 8 yr old boy is 56 lbs.

Lawyers for the mother argue that the county “overreached” in taking her son, saying the kid’s health is not in imminent danger.

“They are trying to make it seem like I am unfit, like I don’t love my child,” the boy’s mother. “Of course I love him. Of course I want him to lose weight. It’s a lifestyle change, and they are trying to make it seem like I am not embracing that. It is very hard, but I am trying.”

What do you think?

And if you do agree that childhood obesity is child abuse, what do you think that “society” should do about it?

The Ohio state health department estimates more than 12 percent of third-graders statewide are severely obese.

  • Do we take all those severely obese children away from their parents?

What about your neighborhood?

  • Would you be okay with your local children’s aid society taking away 12% of the kids in your neighborhood?
  • And why stop at obesity?

Without crappy parents, we wouldn’t have so many junkies, murderers, rapists, perverts, etc…

Even the best parents screw up their kids in some way.

And as much as it pisses me off to see parents enabling their kid’s obesity, I just don’t see how putting all our severely obese kids into foster homes makes any sense on a large scale.

But that’s just my opinion.


Lose Weight with Bubble Gum

In previous studies, the hormone PYY has been shown to:

  • Reduce appetite
  • Increase efficiency of digestion
  • Increase nutrient absorption
  • Increase fluid absorption
  • Reduce caloric intake by 30%

Sounds great….right?

Until you learn that….

  1. All of this amazing research has been conducted with injectible PYY.
  2. When PYY is taken orally (as in a weight loss pill), the “hormone is destroyed in the stomach and that which isn’t destroyed has difficulty crossing into the bloodstream through the intestines”.

And no one wants to take multiple injections of PYY every day in order to lose a few pounds.

No one.

And that’s precisely why Dr. Robert Doyle of Syracuse University is hard at work developing  a way of disguising the PYY so it can travel through the digestive system relatively unharmed.

Several years ago, Doyle developed a way to use vitamin B12 as a vehicle for the oral delivery of the hormone insulin.

The reason he uses B12 is because it is able to pass through the digestive system with relative ease and carry with it insulin, or other substances, into the bloodstream.

In his latest research, his team attached the PYY hormone to his patent-pending vitamin B12 system.

“Phase one of this study was to show that we could deliver a clinically relevant amount of PYY into the bloodstream,” Doyle says. “We did that, and we are very excited by the results.”

Now, they just have to find a way of inserting the B12-PYY system into such things as a lozenge or a chewing gum product like the nicotine-laced gums smokers use to curb their cravings.

How cool is that?


Truly Terrifying Obesity Statistics

Bad news everyone.

By the year 2020, America is going to be really, really fat and really, really sick.

  • 83% of American men will be overweight or obese
  • 72% of American women will be overweight or obese
  • 77 % of men will have dysglycemia (either diabetes or pre-diabetes)
  • 53 % of women will have dysglycemia (either diabetes or pre-diabetes).
If you don’t want to be part of the majority, click, read and take charge of your health.



ADIPOTIDE : Snake Oil or Miracle Weight Loss Pill?

The anti-obesity industry is all abuzz about a bright & shiny new weight loss drug called Adipotide.

In a recent study, obese rhesus monkeys….

  • lost 11% of their total body weight, and
  • 27% of their belly fat mass

….in just four weeks of Adipotide treatment.

And while that’s pretty impressive, what really gets me excited about Adipotide  is how it works.

Where other miracle “fat pills” have tried to reduce obesity by:

  1. controlling appetite
  2. increasing metabolism
  3. or preventing absorption of dietary fat

Adipotide works by:

  1. cutting off the blood supply to fat cells by means of a “homing agent that binds to a protein on the surface of fat-supporting blood vessels
  2. and a synthetic peptide that triggers cell death

The result of this is that when the supporting blood vessels have died and withered away, the offending fat cells are starved, reabsorbed and metabolized.

And the fat monkeys become fit monkeys

And it’s not just fat loss.

In this latest study, the obese monkeys saw a drastic improvement in insulin sensitivity and metabolic syndrome symptoms.

What about side effects?

Monkeys in the studies remained bright and alert throughout, interacting with caretakers and demonstrating no signs of nausea or food avoidance. This is potentially an important finding since unpleasant side-effects have limited the use of approved drugs that reduce fat absorption in the intestines.

The principal side effects were noted in the kidneys. “The renal effect was dose-dependent, predictable and reversible,” Barnhart noted.

What about human studies?

It turns out that Adipotide is not the first drug developed using this research.

The researcher’s original work focused on cutting off the blood supply of prostate cancer cells. During this cancer research they found that “blood vessels are more than a uniform and ubiquitous “pipeline” that serves the circulatory system, but differ depending on the organ or tissue that they support” .

This allowed them to design a method of screening peptides – small bits of proteins – and to identify those that bind to specific vascular cells among the many possible “ZIP codes” present in a human vascular map.

For blood vessels that support fat cells, the target protein is prohibitin, which they found in unusual abundance on the blood vessel cell surface.

Based on this discovery, the researchers are preparing for a clinical trial in which obese prostate cancer patients would receive daily injections of Adipotide for 28 consecutive days.

The goal of the study is to see if their prostate cancer becomes better as their body weight and associated health risks are improved.

Future studies focused solely on weight loss are in the planning stage.

So what does this mean to you?

For now…not a whole heck of a lot.

If Adipotide does turn out to be a miracle weight loss pill, it’s going to be a long time before you’ll be able to get a prescription.

But….it is the first sign of ingenuity I have seen coming from weight loss researchers in a long time.

Kinda funny that they’re actually cancer researchers.


Intestinal Stem Cells Respond to Food by Shrinking or Supersizing Your Gut

Working with fruit flies, researchers have found that adult intestinal stem cells “respond to increased food intake by producing more intestinal cells, expanding the size of the intestines as long as the food keeps flowing”.

This situation is reversed upon withdrawal of food.

Prior to this research, it was believed that once embryonic stem cells mature into adult stem cells, they sit quietly in our tissues, replacing cells that die or are injured but doing little else.

“When flies start to eat, the intestinal stem cells go into overdrive, and the gut expands,” said UC Berkeley post-doctoral fellow Lucy O’Brien. “Four days later, the gut is four times bigger than before, but when food is taken away, the gut slims down.”

Just as in humans and other mammals, O’Brien added, the fly intestine secretes its own insulin. In flies, intestinal insulin seems to be the signal that makes stem cells “supersize the gut.”

“Because of the many similarities between the fruit fly and the human, the discovery may hold a key to understanding how human organs adapt to environmental change,” said David Bilder, UC-Berkeley associate professor of molecular and cell biology.


Details of the Study

O’Brien, Bilder and their colleagues discovered that when fruit flies feed, their intestines secrete insulin locally, which stimulates intestinal stem cells to divide and produce more intestinal cells.

“The real surprise was that the fruit fly intestine is capable of secreting its own insulin,” BIlder said. “This intestinal insulin spikes immediately after feeding and talks directly to stem cells, so the intestine controls its own adaptation.”

Stem cells can divide either asymmetrically, producing one stem cell and one intestinal cell, or symmetrically, producing two stem cells. The team found that, in response to food, intestinal stem cells underwent symmetric division more frequently than asymmetric division, which had the effect of maintaining the proportion of stem cells to intestinal cells, and is a more efficient way of ramping up the total number of cells, O’Brien said.

“Adaptive resizing of the intestine makes sense from the standpoint of physiological fitness,” she said. “Upkeep of the intestinal lining is metabolically expensive, consuming up to 30 percent of the body’s energy resources. By minimizing intestinal size when food is scarce, and maximizing digestive capacity when food is abundant, adaptive intestinal resizing by stem cells helps animals survive in constantly changing environments.”


I have no idea where researchers are actually going to go with this research, but I bet there is a lab geek out there right now dreaming of making a bazillion dollars by designing a stem cell therapy to control this effect.

Because if they can reduce the size of your intestines, they also reduce the travel time of food from ingestion to elimination and reduce the amount of calories absorbed and potentially stored as body-fat.

And considering the drastic increase in obesity worldwide, there is definitely a market for a solution such as this.



Lose Weight with PGX

A new study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, says that if you consume 5 grams of PGX fibre at the start of a meal, you will lower the Glycemic Index of that meal by 30%.

And that’s good news, because if you lower the Glycemic Index of that meal by 30%, you’re also lowering the resultant insulin production.

And if you believe that fat storage is driven by insulin, that 30% reduction in GI score has also lowered your chances of becoming obese.

What Does This Mean To You?

It means that if you’re going to eat a meal loaded with high glycemic carbs (sugar, starch, etc), you can minimize fat storage by supplementing with some PGX  (or some other viscous polysaccharide) prior to chowing down.

Or you can skip the high glycemic meal altogether and embrace your paleo roots and grill a steak and some veggies on the bbq.


Is Obesity Caused By A Lack Of Protein?

The protein leverage hypothesis proposes that a genetic appetite for protein combined with a widespread decline in the ratio of protein to fat and carbohydrate in our diet is responsible for:

  1. Increased caloric intake and
  2. The resultant explosion in worldwide obesity.

In this study, researchers tested the protein leverage hypothesis in lean humans by disguising the macronutrient composition of foods offered to subjects under ad libitum feeding conditions. Energy intakes and hunger ratings were measured for 22 lean subjects studied over three 4-day periods of in-house dietary manipulation.

Subjects were restricted to fixed menus in random order comprising 28 foods designed to be similar in palatability, availability, variety and sensory quality and providing 10%, 15% or 25% energy as protein.  Nutrient and energy intake was calculated as the product of the amount of each food eaten and its composition.


Lowering the percent protein of the diet from 15% to 10% resulted in higher total energy intake, predominantly from savoury-flavoured foods available between meals.

In contrast, increasing protein from 15% to 25% did not alter energy intake.

On the fourth day of the trial, however, there was a greater increase in the hunger score between 1–2 h after the 10% protein breakfast versus the 25% protein breakfast.


Lowering the protein content of your diet  promotes hunger and over-consumption of calories….enhancing the risk of obesity.


Remember this the next time you have cereal for breakfast instead of scrambled eggs.

the american heart association loves red meat




Leptin Resistance and the Search for a Magic Fat Pill

Leptin resistance is one of the hottest topics for scientists looking to develop an anti-obesity pill.

In a new study, a group from Australia have finally discovered how leptin resistance actually happens.

According to lead author, Tony Tiganis, “our bodies produce leptin in response to increasing fat deposits. Acting on a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, leptin instructs the body to increase energy expenditure and decrease food intake, and so helps us maintain a healthy body weight.”


Unfortunately, “the body’s response to leptin is diminished in overweight and obese individuals, giving rise to the concept of ‘leptin-resistance’. In this new study, we’ve discovered more about how ‘leptin-resistance’ develops, providing new directions for research into possible treatments.”

And it’s this possibility of a possible treatment that has the weight-loss world all a-twitter.

Two proteins are already known to inhibit leptin in the brain and Professor Tiganis’ team have discovered a third. In mice, this third protein becomes more abundant with weight-gain, exacerbating leptin-resistance and hastening progression to morbid obesity. The study showed that the three negative regulators of leptin take effect at different stages, shedding light on how obesity progresses.

“Drugs targeting one of the negative regulators are already in clinical trials for Type 2 Diabetes, however, our research shows that in terms of increasing leptin-sensitivity in obesity, targeting only one of these won’t be enough. All three regulators might need to be switched off,” said Professor Tiganis.

The study showed that high fat diet-induced weight gain is largely prevented in genetically-modified mice when two of the negative regulators are deleted in the brain.

“We now have to determine what happens when all three negative regulators are neutralised. Do we prevent high fat diet-induced obesity?”

What Does This Mean To You?

If you’re waiting for a magic anti-fat pill…not a whole lot. It will be years before a pill is ready for the market…if ever.

However, if this research has piqued your interest about your own level of leptin resistance…read on my friend.

Short Term Fasting and Leptin

Keeping in mind that this research is in it’s infancy…..there are a couple of studies which show that short term fasting (when accompanied with reduced levels of glucose and insulin) causes serum leptin levels to drop regardless of body-fat changes.

They suggest that insulin, glucose, sugar, carbs, pizza & soda play a significant role in the regulation of leptin release….leptin resistance…. and ultimately obesity.

If future research confirms this, this means that short-term fasting diets combined with reduced carb consumption may turn out to be a pretty awesome way to fight obesity.



Childhood Obesity, Junk Food Profits and the U.S. Congress

Earlier this year, an interagency working group, made up of the Federal Trade Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, announced that they would be recommending that America’s food producers should voluntarily end all food advertising to children unless they were for healthy choices, such as whole grains, fresh fruits or vegetables.

Key words: recommending, voluntarily, children and healthy.

This first draft of voluntary guidelines set  maximum levels of fat, sugars and sodium, among other requirements, and asks food companies not to market foods that go beyond those parameters to children ages 2 through 17. The guidelines would apply to many mediums, including ads on television, in stores and on the Internet, in an effort to stem rising obesity levels.

Under the original proposal, salty, fatty or very sweet foods or foods with trans fats would no longer be advertised to children, defined as age 17 or under.

Once again… Key words: recommending, voluntarily, children and healthy.

In response, the food industry, backed by House Republicans, has aggressively lobbied against the voluntary guidelines, saying they are too broad and would limit marketing of almost all of the nation’s favorite foods, including some yogurts and many children’s cereals. Though the guidelines would be voluntary, food companies say they fear the government will retaliate against them if they don’t go along.

Officials from the Federal Trade Commission, the Agriculture Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who jointly wrote the guidelines, will on Wednesday face the Republican-led House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has already made its distaste for the proposal clear. In a letter last month, Republicans on the committee wrote the agencies and called the (voluntary) guidelines “little better than a shot in the dark.”

Following the industry objections, the congressional pushback and a public comment period on the proposal, the government agencies involved appear to be softening their approach.

In testimony released by the committee before the hearing, David Vladeck, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the coalition of government agencies is “in the midst of making significant revisions to the original proposal.

Among the changes he suggested are narrowing the age group targeted and focusing on children aged 2 to 11 instead of up to age 17 and allowing marketing of the unhealthier foods at fundraisers and sporting events. Vladeck also said that his agency would not recommend that companies change packaging or remove brand characters from food products that don’t qualify, as was originally suggested in the guidelines.

“Those elements of packaging, though appealing to children, are also elements of marketing to a broader audience and are inextricably linked to the food’s brand identity,” Vladeck says in prepared testimony. Tony the Tiger is well-known as the mascot for Frosted Flakes and Toucan Sam for Froot Loops, both Kelloggs’ cereals.

So, there you go. Democracy in action.

  • Companies market questionable food-like products directly to children.
  • Parents and special interest groups bring attention to this business practice
  • Government investigates and prepares a series of voluntary recommendations
  • Lobbyists for the affected food producers work hard in an attempt to dilute the voluntary recommendations
  • Congress supports the position of the food lobby
  • Recommendations are watered-down
  • Food producers resume original marketing practices
  • Children influenced by said marketing grow up to be obese adults still affected by said marketing practices
  • Continuing increases in systemic obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome et al drive healthcare costs up and quality of life down




The Fat Taxes Are Coming

Denmark, one of Europe’s leanest countries, has instituted the world’s first “fat tax”.

Approved by a large parliamentary majority back in March, Danish consumers now have to pay a 16 kroner ($2.72 USD) tax per kilogram of saturated fat in a product.

This means that Danes have to pay $0.15 more for a burger and $0.40 more for a small package of butter.

This is in addition to the higher fees already applied to sugar, chocolates and soft drinks.

Why a Fat Tax?

Officially…these targeted food taxes are part of a larger government plan to increase the life expectancy of Danes by three years over the next 10 years.

“Higher fees on sugar, fat and tobacco is an important step on the way toward a higher average life expectancy in Denmark,” health minister Jakob Axel Nielsen said, because “saturated fats can cause cardiovascular disease and cancer.”

Opponents to the tax say that it is very complex, involving tax rates on the percentage of fat used in making a product rather than the percentage that is in the end-product.

As such, they expect that this new level of bureaucracy will cost Danish businesses about $28 million in the first year.

Do Fat Taxes Work?

Opponents of fat taxes say that there is no proof that fat taxes will:

  1. Reduce consumption of fatty foods, and/or
  2. Improve the health and longevity of the Danish citizens

However, considering that fat taxes are a new invention, the opponents don’t know that they won’t work either.

Proponents of fat taxes look at the success of cigarette taxes to lower consumption levels and hope that Danes will be eating healthier and living longer because of this intervention.

However, food is different from tobacco. Smokers can live without cigarettes. No one lives without food. 

As well, there is no proof that replacing butter with margarine and a weekly burger with a fish sandwich is going to result in greater longevity.

At the end of the day, neither side can prove their argument…and as a result, what we have here is an experiment. An experiment being watched by governments around the world.

  • Governments that are desperate to reduce their healthcare costs.
  • Governments that are also desperate to increase tax revenue in order to generate balanced budgets.

And it’s those budget deficits that are going to play a big part in the adoption of fat taxes around the world.

Governments have become dependant on cigarette and alcohol taxes to help stay afloat.

And a nice big fat infusion of tax dollars coming from a pro-health fat tax seems like a real win-win for progressive legislators.


Too Fat for White Castle

A 290 lb stockbroker is suing the White Castle fast food chain because it’s booths are too small to accommodate his burger filled belly.

He claims that White Castle has a responsibility under The Americans with Disabilities Act to provide him with seating that can handle his ponderous paunch.

And ever since talk radio got a hold of the story, the response has been overwhelmingly negative towards Mr. Kessman. Callers and hosts have been in agreement that this is a frivolous lawsuit and that instead of blaming White Castle, Mr. Kessman should accept responsibility for his own lifestyle choices.

And while I agree that this lawsuit is ridiculous and should be tossed asap, it does raise some interesting questions.

  • Fast food restaurants make their money by selling mass quantities of standardized food to the average citizen.

And I’m sure that when White Castle designed their current restaurant seating, the average person could comfortably sit in their booths. Unfortunately, the average citizen is starting to look more and more like Mr. Kessman.


So….I’m wondering if we should look at Mr. Kessman as a sort of canary in the obesity coalmine?

  • Is his lawsuit the beginning of a trend?
  • Will food producers face lawsuits based on disability or that they knowingly sold products that led to obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome?
  • Will obesity become the new smoking?
  • Will major food producers face multi-billion dollar class-action lawsuits?

Instead of trying to placate Mr. Kessman, should the executives at White Castle (and KFC, McDs, etc) see the writing on the wall and begin super-sizing all of their restaurants?

It may be ridiculous to think that a restaurant is responsible for how much food their customers over-eat, but if the average citizen is getting fatter, then companies who cater to the average citizen had better start making changes….before they find themselves in court….or losing market share to their competitors with bigger booths.


Researchers Discover the Skinny Gene

For years, people have been using their crappy (ie fat) genetics as an excuse for being obese.

And for years, their fit friends have been telling them to stop eating junk and to get their butts off of the couch.

So who would have guessed that for a teeny-tiny 0.0005% of the population…there is a genetic cause for being skinny.

In a new study published in the journal Nature, researchers have found that 1 in 2000 people are born with a duplication of part of chromosome 16, making men 23x and women 5x more likely to be underweight.

Each person normally has a copy of each chromosome from each parent, so we have two copies of each gene. But sometimes sections of a chromosome can be duplicated or deleted, resulting in an abnormal ‘dosage’ of genes.

Half of all children with the duplication in this study have been diagnosed with a ‘failure to thrive’, meaning that their rate of weight gain is significantly lower than normal. A quarter of people with the duplication have microcephaly, a condition in which the head and brain are abnormally small, which is associated with neurological defects and shorter life expectancy.

Last year, the same researchers discovered that people with a missing copy of these genes are 43 times more likely to be morbidly obese.

Professor Philippe Froguel, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, who led the study, said: “The dogma is that we have two copies of each gene, but this isn’t really true. The genome is full of holes where genes are lost, and in other places we have extra copies of genes. In many cases, duplications and deletions have no effect, but occasionally they can lead to disease.

“So far, we have discovered a large number of genetic changes that lead to obesity. It seems that we have plenty of systems that increase appetite since eating is so important – you can suppress one and nothing happens. This is the first genetic cause of extreme thinness that has been identified.

“One reason this is important is that it shows that failure to thrive in childhood can be genetically driven. If a child is not eating, it’s not necessarily the parents’ fault.

“It’s also the first example of a deletion and a duplication of one part of the genome having opposite effects. At the moment we don’t know anything about the genes in this region. If we can work out why gene duplication in this region causes thinness, it might throw up new potential treatments for obesity and appetite disorders. We now plan to sequence these genes and find out what they do, so we can get an idea of which ones are involved in regulating appetite.”

The part of chromosome 16 identified in the study contains 28 genes. Duplications in this region have previously been linked with schizophrenia, and deletions with autism.


It may be more convenient to blame your out of shape body on your crappy (ie fat) genetics instead of owning up to your lifestyle choices, but you really, really wouldn’t want one of these genetic errors.

So, count your lucky stars that you’re healthy, download A Paleo Diet for the 21st Century and start doing my Best Body workouts.