Monthly Archives: May 2008

Adolescent Obesity Levels Off

According to a recent study or, rather, survey, over the past decade adolescent obesity has leveled off. This is good news (if in fact the news is for real).

The sad part is that for the past 20 years or so, kids have been allowed to become so fat. It's our fault – the parents, the government and especially the food companies.

In an LA Times article, Dr. Riza Lavizzo-Mourey, President of the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation is quoted as having said:

"These findings may signal that this national epidemic is not an unstoppable force."

You don't need to see the results of the survey to know that this 'epidemic' is entirely stoppable. In fact, the answer is quite simple. Why so many organizations act as if the reason or cause is insurmountable and unfathomable is beyond me.

Kids today are overfat because they eat too much sugar specifically refined carbohydrates (and yes, to a certain extent, calories in general). In my new book Strong Kids Healthy Kids this will be discussed in more detail.

Additionally, it's got not a thing to do with inactivity. Research indicates that overfat kids are just as active as their leaner counterparts. There are plenty of obese and active kids and plenty of lean inactive kids. Money spent on getting kids more active is money wasted. Of course kids should have gym class. Of course kids should be encouraged to participate in sports. But not for reasons of fat loss.

The idea that inactivity is a factor in obesity is without merit. Several studies have looked at activity/aerobic programs in children and found no change in body composition. Two being a 3 year study by Cohen, 1995 Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 66: A29 and a 10 week study by Ignico and Mahon, 1995 (same issue pgs. 85-90) both showed no change in body composition.

It's the gobbling of sugar, not the refrain from frolic that makes kids fat.

And who feeds kids the wrong stuff? Family, friends, schools and institutions.

Q: How do we stop war? Cease killing people.

Q: How do we stop adolescent obesity? Cease feeding kids that which makes them fat. And we know EXACTLY what these foods are. They are foods that never walked, crawled, swam, flew or grew. There is no such thing as a pasta bush, a bagel tree or a pizza-fish. I never met a cookie-cow in my life.

I don't care that it's hard. I don't care that the kids will complain. I don't care that you have to get up earlier to cook and prepare. I don't care that you have to eat the same way too.

The answers to life's problems are sometimes hard. Really hard. But let's not pretend that the answers don't exist because this is so.

"Forget about likes and dislikes. They are of no consequence. Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness."

A complimentary autographed copy of my book The Slow Burn Revolution goes to the first person who can tell me who said this. HINT: It was a man.

Real Food Pyramid

I know I said I was busy – and I am – but I needed to share this with you.

Eat like this and you will be healthy, wealthy and wise:


From the Nutrition and Metabolism website. A great place to learn about how to eat for optimal health.

OK back to the grindstone for me!

Editing My Life Away

My editor has given me quite the editorial challenge on my new book Strong Kids, Healthy Kids (you might have to scroll down a tad to see the cover of the new book and can sign up to be informed of the release  if you wish) and so I am now into full blown editing mania. Just when you thought you were smart…


Until I get done with her very fine and correct edits, I won't be blogging as often. So bear with me as I finish up this difficult but rewarding task. (It's coming Jacquie I promise!!!)

I need to concentrate, concentrate, concentrate…

Mice Are Men?

This article titled Low -Fat Diet May Cut Prostate Cancer Risk was in today’s NY Times Health section.

You know I gotta say that these are the types of articles that really get my blood boiling. They also give me a good belly laugh. Let’s start with the laughter:

"Using a mouse model that closely mimics human prostate cancer,
researchers fed one group of mice a diet with about 40 percent of
calories coming from fat, similar to the amount found in a typical
Western diet. The other group received 12 percent of their calories
from fat."

A mouse model. Mice.

And they fed mice a diet that had 40% fat. An animal that isn’t designed to eat much fat. Remember mad cow’s disease?

OK here’s the belly laugh:

"Although the data come from mice, researchers say it’s reasonable to think the finding will translate to people."


Really? I’d venture a guess and say that it’s just as reasonable to think that the finding would NOT translate to people.

Who are these researchers? Are these people scientists? Let’s see:

"Scientists at Jonsson Cancer Center at the University of California, Los Angeles."

Yep. They’re scientists alright. Pretty crummy ones if they actually made this laughable statement. Let’s see what else they said:

"Researchers say there are already known benefits to lowering or eliminating processed baked goods and fried foods from the diet."

Careful there you smarty-pants researchers.

Questions: How do they know it is the fat that is the culprit? Why couldn’t it be the refined carbohydrates? Or the combination of both the fat and carbohydrate? Or simply the type of fat and not the amount? Or just the fact that the foods are processed which wreaks havoc on our systems?

Do you think that the mice would have had this problem if they were fed only almonds and avocados?

The title of the article should have been:

Mice That Are Fed Foods Consisting Of A Macro Nutrient Content That They Never Would Naturally Eat In The Wild Get Cancer.

Can you imagine a doctor saying:

"Well Mr. Smith, I know you’re concerned about your hair loss. But now there’s good news! Research shows that if I inject a mouse in the head with the fluid in this syringe, its hair grows much thicker. It’s reasonable to assume that if it grows the hair of a mouse thicker, it will work on you too. Shall I go ahead and inject this into your skull now?"

I think you’d bolt.

Might Is Right

Today’s NY Times had a nice article on the importance of strength training.

Here’s a snippet from the article that I liked:

"Healthy muscles, researchers say, are  those that have been worked, stressed and pushed to their  limit…"

Here’s one I sort of didn’t like:

"And keeping muscles fit takes effort, which means regular training with weight lifting and cardiovascular exercise…"

Regular training sounds somewhat misleading. It sounds like weight lifting is something you should do nearly everyday. Research indicates that twice weekly strength training for 15-20 minutes a pop is all you need.

By and large, cardiovascular exercises do NOT keep muscles from atrophy (weakening) and are usually orthopedicaly compromising, meaning, bad for you. Strength training all by its lonesome improves cardiovascular health and aerobic capacity.

Strength training also allows you to perform cardio or aerobic sports better and with less chance of injury. So if you enjoy these types of things,  you’ll be able to keep up with them into your later years.

The concept of keeping ‘fit’ is an odd one. Fit for what exactly? Just becasue you are a good runner doesn’t mean you can swim well. Being fit for soccer doesn’t make you fit for racquet ball. ‘Fit’ is a catchphrase used to describe a general condition of the body when it really describes a specific condition.

The article goes on to say:

"If you don’t work your muscles, they will atrophy, especially as you grow older."

This is not entirely true. It isn’t just work that strengthens muscles and keeps them from atrophy. Walking is work. Jogging is work. Badminton is work. But these activities will NOT keep muscles from weakening as we age. Remember  what was said above:

"Healthy muscles, researchers say, are  those that have been worked, stressed and pushed to their  limit…"

And they’re right. Sadly, most people have no idea what this means – or takes.

This statement:

"To maintain endurance, you  should engage in activities that  pump blood to the muscles, like walking."

Sure – walking is fine. But strength training pumps blood into the muscles better than anything.  Improvements in strength lead directly to improvements in muscular and cardio endurance. So strength training once again fills the bill all by itself.

Lastly, Dr. Kramer’s comments:

"The most effective way to stimulate muscles is with a system known as progressive resistance. This approach can take about three hours a week and includes days, once a week or so, when you lift weights so heavy that you can do only three to five repetitions before your muscles are too tired to lift again. Other days are devoted to moderate resistance, with weights you can lift 8 to 10 times. And then you should have some light days, with weights you can lift 12 to 15 times before your muscles tire."

Actually this is not what is meant by progressive resistance. Progressive resistance involves making weights in an exercise heavier, little by little, as time goes on.

What Dr. Kramer is describing (and wrote a book about) is known as periodization. There is absolutely no evidence to support Dr. Kramer’s opinion that periodizing your weight lifting (as he describes it above) is a necessary method for building strength.

In fact, we already learned from this article – by Dr. Kramer himself – that light lifting days where you use weights so light that you can do 12-15 reps is a waste of time.

Dr. Kramer said:

"Those who do try to lift at the gym  can end up  using weights that are not heavy enough to fully stimulate their muscles."

Using weights that allow you to do 12-15 reps in a controlled (proper) fashion would be a fairly good definition of weights that are not heavy enough to fully stimulate the muscles.

All in all it’s a good article praising the benefits of strength training but it also keeps some long standing myths alive.

And truth be told, strength training offers a lot more benefits than the article mentions!

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