Posts Tagged ‘Weight loss’


By K. Aleisha Fetters, 

Exercise machines are simple — too simple, in fact. According to metabolic training expert BJ Gaddour, C.S.C.S. owner of, “They’ve been dumbed down to the point that they just don’t do your body much good.” Besides parking you on your butt, most machines isolate a single muscle, meaning you’ll burn fewer calories and gain less muscle mass rep for rep.

Most importantly (at least as far as medical bills are concerned), exercise machines can lead to injury. Even with their adjustable seats and pegs, finding the proper position can be close to impossible — and even then the movements just aren’t natural. “Free weights and bodyweight exercises allow your body to move in a natural range of motion,” Gaddour says. “When you fix it, it results in a limited and improper movement pattern that can be dangerous.”

Here, Gaddour shares five exercise machines you should swear off — and all-star alternatives that will give you better, faster fitness gains.

1. The Machine: Lying Leg Press
Your legs are strong (after all, they carry your body around all day), so if you lie down with your legs above your head for a leg press, you have to load more than the equivalent of your bodyweight onto the machine to achieve significant resistance, Gaddour says. Problem is, all that weight goes straight to your lower back, which flexes under the pressure. The risk? A herniated disk. Plus, the move doesn’t even work any of the stabilization muscles in the hips, glutes, shoulders, or lower back. The result: All pain and barely any gain.

Try This Instead: Goblet Squats
Apart from working just about your entire lower body in a single move, this squat variation involves holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of your chest to keep your form in check and the weight off of your lower back. Sometimes, a lighter load delivers a better burn.

2. The Machine: Seated Leg Extension
Since the weight is placed so close to your ankles, the machine puts undue torque on the knee joint, which can wear down cartilage and cause knee pain, Gaddour says. Plus, the common gym contraption is built around a motion that has little real-life benefit.

Try This Instead: Step Ups
Besides working your quads far better than any machine, step ups also train your glutes, hamstrings, and calves. By calling up more muscles, your knees are actually strengthened, not worn down.

3. The Machine: Seated Chest Press
While sitting is less than useful, the bigger problem here is that the machine can cause lopsided muscles. How? If one arm is weaker, the stronger one can end up doing all the work — and getting all the benefit, Gaddour says. To make sure both sides of your chest are strengthened equally, you need to load them separately.

Try This Instead: Pushups
An oldie but a goodie, pushups equally engage both sides of your chest. If it didn’t, you’d fall right over onto your side. What’s more, they tap your core for support and balance. After all, hot bodies aren’t built on chests alone.

4. The Machine: Hip Abductor/Adductor
If it looks ridiculous, it probably is, Gaddour says. And squeezing your thighs together — or pushing them apart — over and over definitely counts. Besides actually working very few muscles, it also strains the spine and can make the IT band so tight it pulls your knee cap out of place — not a good look for anybody.

Try This Instead: Single-Leg Squat
When you’re not in the gym, your inner and outer thighs largely work to maintain stability. So they should do the same thing when you’re in the gym, right? Single leg exercises — like the single-leg bodyweight squat — require those muscles to brace your body and keep you upright, all while putting your quads, glutes, and hamstrings to good use.

5. The Machine: Loaded Standing Calf Raise
While the idea here is to lift weight with your calves, the machine’s setup — specifically the shoulder pads — means that all the weight presses down on your spine before it ever reaches your legs. If it doesn’t turn you into a hunchback, it’ll at least cause you some back pain.

Try This Instead: Bodyweight Standing Calf Raise
If regular standing calf raises don’t have the resistance you need, try standing on one foot during your next set. Besides doubling the weight each calf has to lift at a time, it also puts your legs’ smaller, stabilizing muscles to work.

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By Dr. Laura Q. Rogers
GateHouse News Service
Posted Apr 27, 2012 @ 12:17 PM

The key component to weight management is caloric balance. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. Exercise helps you burn more calories while you are trying to lose weight.

Exercise boosts the number of calories your body burns for up to 24 hours, even while resting. By exercising while on a weight-loss diet, you will be able to retain muscle mass, which helps your body burn more calories and improve your physical functioning while losing fat. It also can help you sleep better; disturbed sleep can interfere with your ability to lose weight.

Once the weight is lost, individuals who continue to exercise are able to keep it off better than those who do not exercise. Exercise redistributes the fat away from the abdomen. If the fat is in your abdominal cavity, it increases your health risk for diabetes and heart disease.

How much exercise do I need?

You need to determine your daily caloric needs at rest –– the number of calories you are burning at rest, based on your current weight, age and height. A free online calculator on your smartphone or computer, such as, can help you do this.

Then, factor in the amount of physical activity you are doing during your usual daily activities. If you have a desk job, you are not going to burn any more calories than when you are at rest. However, a construction worker burns more calories on the job. Brisk walking burns about 300 calories an hour, and jogging burns 675 calories an hour.

Next, determine the number of calories you are actually eating. This requires keeping a diet record by writing down everything you eat and drink, including portion sizes. Read food labels to identify how many calories are in various foods. You can also download a free smartphone app to help you keep track of your diet.

Working out a weight-loss plan

Decide how much weight you want to lose. If you need 2,200 calories a day, and you want to lose a half pound per week, you need to do some exercise, such as brisk walking, for nearly an hour per day until you have achieved the desired weight loss. If you want to lose more weight, you need to do more exercise to burn a greater amount of calories.

Losing a pound a week requires eating 500 fewer calories per day than what you are burning. Extreme reductions in calories may cause your body to burn fewer calories, so gradual weight loss (i.e. 1/2 to 2 pounds per week) is optimal. The key is to combine diet and exercise. The online calculator can show you how long it will take to realize your goal.

Although any amount of exercise is better than none, the most effective goal for weight loss and redistributing fat away from the abdominal area of the body is to exercise at least 250 minutes per week (or 38 minutes per day). Wearing a pedometer and aiming for 10,000 steps a day also helps with losing weight and reducing abdominal fat.

Be safe while exercising

Wearing proper shoes for the activity you are doing is an important first step in exercise safety. If you have excessive weight or have diseases, such as osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, you must be careful and may want to engage in only low-impact activities. Always wear loose-fitting clothing that doesn’t bind or constrict. Also, stay hydrated by drinking water as needed.

Do I need any special tools?

No tools are required if you choose simple exercises, such as walking, which is considered one of the best ways to exercise. Some individuals choose exercise that requires equipment, such as a stationary bicycle or treadmill. It is important to use the appropriate equipment for your activity and make sure it is in good working order.

Making an exercise plan

A well-thought-out exercise plan will help you stay on target for meeting your goals. After deciding how much you want to lose and your calorie adjustments, you need to decide the type of exercise you will do.

Choose exercise that is safe and enjoyable. Will it be of moderate or vigorous intensity? Be sure to check with your physician if you have health risks or symptoms. How much time can you devote to exercise?

Think about adding some variation to your exercise routine so you do not get side-tracked by bad weather, boredom or broken equipment. Having an exercise partner for social support is helpful to some people. Also, keep exercise records.

Start slowly and gradually to avoid injury. As you become stronger and more flexible you can work your way up to longer duration and more repetitions.

If your chosen exercise is walking, it is recommended that you wear a pedometer for a week and record how many steps you did per day. Then calculate a daily average. Increase about 500 steps per day every two weeks and maintain a record of daily steps, working up to 10,000 steps per day.

Work exercise into your daily routine, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk or bike to your destination, exercise at lunch with co-workers, take a 10-minute break to stretch or take a 10-minute walk and reduce screen time.

Dr. Laura Q. Rogers is professor of internal medicine at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

Be Healthy Springfield (Ill.)

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Fitness and Triathlon expert;
Get-Fit Guy podcast host
Posted: 02/ 5/2012 8:17 am

Your body’s most efficient energy source is fat.

Just one pound of stored fat can provide about 3,600 calories of energy, which is far more than most people actually burn in a single day. In comparison, a pound of storage protein or carbohydrate provides less than half that much energy.

Since it’s so efficient to use as energy, your body relies primarily on fat during rest and during relatively slow and easy physical activity. But once you begin moving quickly, your body begins to burn more carbohydrates, since fat doesn’t provide energy as quickly as carbohydrates. When you need to get from point A to point B quickly (like a running race), or need to hoist a heavy object overhead (like weight training), your body needs more immediate energy, and that’s where carbohydrates come in. They don’t provide as much energy, but they certainly provide it far faster than fat.

So when you move from a standstill to a walk to a jog to an all-out sprint, your body begins to tap into carbohydrates more and more, while gradually reducing reliance on fat as a fuel.

Of course, it’s important to remember that as you move faster, you’re burning more overall calories, too — so while the percentage of fat used as a fuel is decreasing, the total fat calories you burn might still be increasing since your overall calorie burn is significantly increasing. And this is where the “maximum fat-burning zone” comes in.

If you burn 200 calories per hour while walking, and get 60 percent of those calories from fat, then you burn 120 fat calories per hour. But if you burn 600 calories per hour while jogging, and only burn 40 percent fat during that time, you burn 240 calories of fat per hour, twice as many as when you were walking. You’re burning more overall fat calories, but using less fat as a percentage of your overall fuel utilization. Using this concept, you can approximate the point at which fat burning peaks during exercise — aka, your “maximum fat-burning zone.”

The maximum fat-burning zone typically occurs at 45-65 percent of your maximum heart rate, and that is the calculation ordinarily used by personal trainers or gym machines. They’ll take the number 220, subtract your age to find your maximum heart rate, and then take 45-65 percent of that number to find your maximum fat-burning zone.

But the result you get from this method is highly variable and tends to be inaccurate, primarily because your maximum heart rate is highly variable, and that 220 equation doesn’t pinpoint it very well. So here is a better way to find your maximum fat-burning zone:

Warm up on a bicycle for 10 minutes. An indoor bicycle is better, since there’s no traffic, hills, etc.

  1. Pedal at your maximum sustainable pace for 20 minutes. You should be breathing hard and your legs should be burning, but you should be able to maintain the same intensity for the full 20 minutes. If you’re looking at RPM, go for about 70-90 pedal turns per minute.
  2. Record your average heart rate during those 20 minutes by using a heart rate monitor or the handles on an exercise machine.
  3. Subtract 20 beats from that heart rate. Add and subtract three beats from the resulting number to get a range, and that is your maximum fat burning zone.

For example, if your average heart rate was 160, 160-20 is 140, 140+3 is 143, 140-3 is 137, and so your maximum fat-burning zone is when you have a heart rate of 137-143 beats per minute.

Compared to the results that I have obtained from hundreds of individuals in a professional exercise physiology lab with all sorts of gas masks and gadgets, this method obtains very similar results.

Finally, remember that the maximum fat-burning doesn’t necessarily burn a high number of calories; and if you do all your exercise in that zone, you won’t necessarily develop strong lungs or muscles, or much fitness or athleticism. As a matter of fact, because they burn so many calories and boost your metabolism so much, hard cardio bursts and weight training help you lose fat much faster than exercising in your maximum fat-burning zone.

So your ideal workout program should combine cardiovascular exercise in your maximum fat-burning zone (for example, in the morning or on easier, recovery days) with a combination of resistance training and cardio intervals that go above the fat-burning zone (for example, on afternoons or alternate days). Here is a sample workout week that incorporates the fat-burning zone:

  • Day 1: Strength training — 30-60 minutes
  • Day 2: Peak fat-burning zone cardio — 30-60 minutes
  • Day 3: Cardio intervals — 30-60 minutes
  • Day 4: Off
  • Day 5: Strength training — 30-60 minutes
  • Day 6: Peak fat-burning zone cardio — 30-60 minutes
  • Day 7: Cardio intervals — 30-60 minutes

With the workout above, you give your body a chance to burn fat fast with the resistance training and cardio intervals, but you also get to utilize easier days to burn fat in your maximum fat-burning zone, without quite as much strain on the body.

So now that you know how to find your maximum fat-burning zone, it’s time to head to the gym and do your test!

For more by Ben Greenfield, click here.

For more on fitness and exercise, click here.

Ben Greenfield is a fitness and triathlon expert and host of the Get-Fit Guy podcast on the Quick and Dirty Tips network. His book, Get-Fit Guy’s Guide to Achieving Your Ideal Body — A Workout Plan for Your Unique Shape, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in May 2012.

Follow Ben Greenfield on Twitter:

Elaine Gavalas
Author; Natural Health Expert
Posted: 01/ 5/12 07:53 AM ET

Every year, one of the top New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight — and for a good reason. According to the CDC, two out of every three Americans are overweight or obese. We’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic and the numbers are increasing worldwide. Many of us are affected by this epidemic, either personally or through our families or friends.

Studies show that successful weight management depends on a healthy lifestyle. The conventional prescription for achieving and maintaining your best weight is still the healthiest — through lifestyle education, eating a healthful, balanced diet, cutting calories and 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity daily.

Yoga To The Rescue Most weight loss plans are fads that offer short-term solutions to a long-term problem. Many people find these plans impossible to stay on for a lengthy period of time. In contrast, yoga offers a positive change in lifestyle, where permanent weight loss and maintenance is a natural result of enjoyable yoga exercise and diet. By balancing food intake and yoga exercise, you can naturally achieve your ideal weight.

Yoga Boosts Calorie Burning Research reports that regular yoga practice may help jumpstart weight loss all year. One study, published in Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise, suggests that vinyasa flow-style yoga practice can burn as many calories as other aerobic activities, such as walking and running.

Researchers at Adelphi University in New York administered a videotaped vinyasa yoga sequence to 13 experienced yoga practitioners. The participants’ oxygen use, heart-rate and calorie burning were monitored during the yoga session.

The researchers found that the participants’ heart rates increased 77 percent during the yoga session. The practitioners burned up to 507 calories per hour. This is the equivalent of running an 11-minute mile.

Yoga Prevents Middle-Aged Spread Another study, published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, reports that regular yoga practice can prevent middle-aged weight gain in normal weight adults and promote weight loss in overweight adults.

Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle analyzed physical activity and body weight data from the Vitamins and Lifestyle Study, a survey of 15,550 adults with an average age of 55.

The researchers found that overweight middle-aged participants who practiced yoga at least once a week lost an average of 5 pounds. In contrast, the participants who didn’t practice yoga gained 13 pounds.

Is weight loss one of your New Year’s resolutions? I’d love to hear about it! Please share with us below.
For more by Elaine Gavalas, click here.

For more on yoga, click here.
If you want to learn more about a yoga weight loss program, please download a free sample chapter from my book, “The Yoga Minibook for Weight Loss.”
You can buy “The Yoga Minibook for Weight Loss” here.
Elaine Gavalas is an exercise physiologist, yoga therapist, weight management specialist and nutritionist.

Follow Elaine Gavalas

Flickr photo by Earl McGehee


This is an article that I posted several years ago, but as the FlightTeam gears up for 2011-2012 season  I thought  it was appropriate that we revisit it.

Training and competition are complex activities; there are a number of things that contribute to success.  However, three very basic rules should always be followed when training.  These cornerstones of being a successful system of training are:

  • Moderation,
  • Consistency, and
  • Rest.

Moderation – The first cornerstone of training is moderation.  Moderation means not going to extremes in any aspect of training.  In fact there have been some studies that suggest workouts lasting over one hour will compromise the body’s endocrine system.  To be more specific, production of testosterone, the male hormone, levels off 50 minutes into a workout and begins to decline after one hour.  Therefore many athletes (male and female) are working at a testosterone deficit if they train beyond an hours time.  An athlete who consistently over trains my feel a need to use anabolic steroids  – which contain artificial testosterone – in order to compensate for poor training methods or over training. Workouts that last too long tend to produce too much of a catabolic substance, cortisol, and no progress can be made until it is removed from the system.  Steroids mask the catabolic effects of cortisol so that the athlete can continue to train unwisely.

In any event the long-term results of more extreme training programs are inconsistent, with more athletes failing than succeeding in reaching their performance goals. Some athletes develop serious injuries, and many become burned out, psychologically drained by the heavy training loads. Or, as mentioned above, turn to performance enhancing substances to compensate for what they perceive as an acceptable means of jump starting their athletic performance.

The human body can take far more stress than we generally give it credit for. However, it needs to adapt to heavier stresses gradually. Moderation means carefully planned training of programs that avoid extremes in physical and psychological stress. Training and competing can be beautiful and exciting part of life, but they’re not all there is to life. Principle of moderation permits the athlete to enjoy the other parts of life as much as his or her sport.

Consistency – The second cornerstone of training is consistency. One way to avoid extremes in training is to train at a reasonable level every day. This does not mean using the same training load each day however. When an athlete trains consistently, the body has more time to adapt to the stress of training, easing its way to higher levels of  fitness and better performances.  If a few days of training are missed, the body loses tone and endurance. A day or two of extra training will not make up for that loss. In fact, the athlete my overstress the body, resulting in an injury or even worse – illness. Extra physical strain does more than simply tire the body, so the consistency of training is critical. The athlete who trains daily at a moderate level will outperform the equally talented athlete who trains extremely hard at times and then skips training at other times.

Consistency has another reward for the athlete. As training continues, a solid fitness base is developed. The longer the time used to develop that base, the less effect that interruption in training has. Although an athlete loses conditioning when training is interrupted, the long-term base loses in conditioning is slower and regained more quickly once the athlete resumes training.

Rest – The third and perhaps the most important cornerstone of training for young athletes is rest.   This may be the training rule least followed by young athletes. A simple rule of training: when in doubt, get more rest. Athletes feeling tired or weak shouldn’t attempt a strenuous training session. Instead, they should have a very light session or simply skipped practice altogether. Athletes must be aware of how much sleep there getting. Athletes in training need more rest and sleep than non-athletes.

Athletes need more rest because the extra work creates extra physical stress, which calls for more recovery time. Second, the body adapts to stress of training when it is at rest rather than during the stress. This is part of the overload aspect of training. If the body does not get enough rest, it cannot recover and adapte fully to the stress of training.

Although the amount varies from person to person with younger athletes usually needing more rest than older athletes, generally speaking most athletes need at least eight to ten hours of sleep each night. It is during this downtime or “rest period” that the body repairs itself and adapts to the stress of the previous training period.  Athletes must learn to be in tune to his or her body; it tells you it needs more rest and when it’s had enough. The body runs on rest, just as it runs on fuel. If it has to little of either, it begins to run poorly.

These three cornerstones – moderation, consistency, and rest are critical to any training plan that coach or an athlete may use. If an athlete trains consistently and at moderate levels while getting enough rest, his or her performance should continue to improve for years.

As an athlete you want to make sure that your training regime is effective and taking you to a point where you are realizing your full potential in your sport of choice.  A training regime that takes into account your limitations as an athlete with goals that are realistic for you without relying on performance enhancing substances that may have long term effects on your health and well-being. As you develop your personal training plan be sure to include the 3 cornerstones of training – moderation, consistency and rest.

Remember FlightTeam, our goal for 2012 is  “20 in 12”  (twenty State Qualifiers in 2012) – but you need to heed these 3 Cornerstones of Training to make sure we get there.

Get Out, Get Up, Get Busy!!!!!!

Coach Murdock

My Weight Loss Coach

Image via Wikipedia

Tim Harlan, M.D.
Board certified internist and founder of
Posted: 05/14/11 11:27 AM ET

For years, I’ve been telling my patients that planning is the key to successful weight loss. You wouldn’t build a house or tackle some other large project without a plan, would you? Weight loss is no exception, and for my patients I recommend a two-pronged approach: keeping a daily food diary, as well as planning meals ahead of time.

Keeping a food diary helps people track their caloric intake so that they are more aware of what they are eating. These diaries have worked well to help folks both lose weight and maintain their weight loss. In the past few years, however, there have been online food diaries available to help people with weight loss, and there are dozens, if not hundreds of sites that offer calorie and exercise tracking (and for the sake of full disclosure, my web site at is no exception).

The weight loss industry has long been targeting women, but since being overweight is by no means gender-specific, there’s recently been more interest in helping men lose weight. A study out of Australia reported last year on the results of a 12-month, internet-based weight loss program, specifically for men (Obesity 2011;19:142-151).

The researchers recruited 65 men between the ages of 18 and 65, with an average age of about 36 and an average Body Mass Index of about 31, which is considered clinically obese. The men were randomized into two groups: one received a weight loss booklet and attended a one-hour information session, while the other group received the same weight loss book and attended the same information session, but they were also instructed in how to use the study’s online weight loss web site: (This website is specific to Australia; the US version charges a fee.)

Those assigned to using the website were instructed to record their weight on the website at least once per week, and to keep a daily online diary of their eating and exercise for the first four weeks of the study. In the second month of the study, they were only requested to submit records for two of the weeks and in the third month, only one week. The participants were also able to interact with the research group through a forum on the website.

After three months, the participants’ weight, waist circumference, blood pressure and heart rate were measured and compared with their scores from the start of the study. While both groups lost weight, those using the website lost more than 50 percent more weight (4.8 kg, or 10.6 pounds, compared to 3.0 kg, on average).

What’s especially interesting is that one year after the start of the study, both groups had kept the weight off and had even lost more weight. Those who continued to use the website, however, had lost an additional 0.5 kg, while those with just the program booklet had only lost an additional 0.1 kg.

The researchers in Australia did not report on the accuracy of the participants’ food diaries, and, indeed, it’s a tenet of diet and nutrition research that self-kept food diaries are notoriously inaccurate — even when the person keeping a food diary is a nutritionist or dietitian!

One way to help keep your food diary accurate is my second suggestion to my patients who want to lose weight: planning. Most of the people who come to see me have their lives well-organized: They can tell me where they will be at 4 p.m. next Tuesday, when their kids are at band camp and what time they pick their son up from baseball practice. But they can’t tell me what they will be having for dinner. If you take some time over the weekend, say, and plan out all of your meals for the coming week, then go to the grocery store and buy everything you need, you essentially have your food diary already filled out. You won’t be stuck standing in front of the refrigerator at 7:30 p.m. after your daughter’s soccer practice wondering what you’re going to have for dinner, because you’ll already know.

Even more than planning for the coming week, it’s essential to plan how much you’re going to eat at those meals. I’m sure you heard it too: “Clean your plate; there are children starving in Africa.” We’re well-programmed to eat everything we put on our plate. The vast majority of research done on how much people eat focuses on measuring how much people eat when they are able to eat as much as they want, until they are full. The assumption is that how much people eat at any one meal is dependent on mental and physical feelings of fullness, both of which occur while one is actually eating.

Researchers in England took another approach towards researching how much people eat at meal times. Their theory was that how much people eat at a meal is largely determined before someone sits down to eat (Appetite 2011;56:284-289).

To test their theory, they recruited 764 members of the staff and students at the University of Bristol to respond to an online survey of their eating habits. The participants were 78 percent women, almost 20 percent were dieting to lose weight and the group averaged about 25 years of age, with a Body Mass Index of 22.8 (in the normal range).

The survey questions the participants responded to were based on their recollections of their single most recent meal (not including snacks). They were asked, among other questions, what type of meal it was (breakfast, lunch, dinner), where it was eaten (at home or at a restaurant) and if they themselves selected the portion size. They were then asked if they had eaten everything on their plate, and if they did, could they have eaten more? Had they planned to eat everything on their plate? Did they take another helping? If they did not eat everything on their plate, why?

The researchers found that 91 percent of the respondents cleaned their plates, regardless of whether that meal was breakfast, lunch or dinner. Ninety-two percent of those people who cleaned their plates stated that they had planned to clean their plates at the start of the meal. Indeed, 28 percent of those people said that they were full before they ate everything on their plate, but they ate it anyway. Only 7 percent of the participants did not eat everything on their plate, even though they had planned to.

If you’re working on your weight, whether you’re trying to lose or just maintaining, planning is key to success. Planning your weekly meals, planning your portions and then tracking your intake with a food diary are proven tools to help you reach your goals.

David Katz, M.D.
Director, Yale Prevention Research Center
Posted: 04/25/11 08:39 AM ET

Surprise, somewhat surprisingly, has emerged as a theme in my recent work. A little over a week ago, I was in the beautiful Alpine town of Gmunden, in Upper Austria, participating in a ‘surprise factors’ symposium. The provincial government of Upper Austria convened a think tank of experts to help them anticipate and prepare for upcoming, societal surprises, in pursuit of the best possible health, and social vitality, for their population of 1.6 million people.

Yesterday, I participated in a childhood obesity conference at the Cleveland Clinic, convened jointly by the Clinic, and Slate Magazine. I was privileged to share the podium with, among others, Dr. Toby Cosgrove, Cleveland Clinic CEO; the CEO (or ‘Tea-E-O’ as he prefers) of Honest Tea™, Seth Goldman; Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, until recently a health policy advisor at the White House; the mayor of Oklahoma City; and Melody Barnes, the architect of the First Lady’s Let’s Move program.

Following my comments, and those of others, I was interviewed by a reporter with the Cleveland Plain Dealer who asked me to note any surprises the conference had revealed.

The first part of my answer was … none, really. After all, when you are asked to speak on a topic in which you ostensibly have expertise, you really aren’t supposed to be surprised. An entry level criterion for being an ‘expert’ is knowing the important things going on in one’s field. By and large, if you are surprised in a discussion of your own field, it means you haven’t been doing your homework!

So my colleagues’ comments did not surprise me, any more than mine surprised them (although they may have been surprised that I made mine in rhyme). We all agreed on the urgent peril of epidemic childhood and adult obesity; we agreed on its multifactorial origins in modern social and environmental changes; and we agreed on the need for an aggregation of solutions in every setting to get us all to the prize of better health and vitality.

But then I thought about the juxtaposition between what was going on in that auditorium, and outside of it — and did have a surprise to share.

I am surprised, and even more so concerned, about how readily people with good common sense switch it off when it comes to weight control and the illusory promise of a quick fix. While experts in an auditorium were discussing menu boards, sidewalks, school food, worksite wellness, and the Farm Bill — people in the real world were lining up for the Dukan Diet, the HCG Diet, or perhaps the imminent ‘fructose free’ diet.

Each of these is at present something of a phenomenon, and through the filter of either expertise or common sense, none deserves to be!

The Dukan Diet is a best-selling global phenomenon because it has helped several women in the royal wedding party- including bride-to-be Kate Middleton — slim down for the nuptials. But the diet is tried-and-failed low-carb nonsense, just with a French accent this time. Of course you lose weight when you cut out all carbs, and consequently cut down enormously on calories. You could just as well lose weight eating ONLY carbs, as the infamous Twinkie Diet showed us.

The Dukan Diet is not healthful, and not sustainable. It offers nothing new — just a new label. The princess, alas, is destined to gain back any weight she lost with this quick-fix approach. It is surprising how perennially, even among intelligent and highly educated people, weight loss hope triumphs over experience.

The Dukan Diet is merely bad; the HCG Diet is potentially deadly. This diet, too, is wildly popular — which is not just surprising, but shocking. The HCG Diet combines hormone injections which all published studies show to be useless for weight loss, with extreme calorie restriction that studies show can be lethal. I have been contacted by a forensic pathologist investigating the sudden death of a formerly healthy, 34-year-old mother of two. She was three weeks into the HCG Diet, and from all I’ve heard so far, that was the only smoking gun on the scene.

Then, there was the recent combination of a YouTube video by Dr. Robert Lustig, and a New York Times Magazine article by Gary Taubes, suggesting that sugar in general — and fructose in particular — is poison. The popularity of this concept is an open invitation to food manufacturers to start inundating us with ‘fructose free’ junk food. Fructose-free soda is already here, with labeling implying a virtue the product assuredly lacks!

So, the divide between our common sense and our common behaviors is … surprising.

At the conference in Cleveland, we acknowledged how challenging it is to change some of what stands between our families, and better health — such as a Farm Bill that favors the interest of ‘big food’ over you and me. But in response, I noted that we moms and dads in our multitudes have the potential to be the greatest, most unstoppable “special interest group” of all time. Our special interest is the health of our children!

So I hold out hope that our common sense will lead us to common cause. That we will reject false promises and quick fixes, and rally around the policies, practices, and programs that will situate weight control and health on a path of lesser resistance for us all. Perhaps that’s the triumph of my own hope over experience, but what a happy surprise it would be!

Dr. David L. Katz;