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Surprise, surprise…Americans are getting just as many calories from booze as they are from soda. And being of the “empty” variety, calories from both booze and soda add to the girth without adding to energy stores. A government study released today has implicated alcoholic beverages for 5% of the average American’s daily caloric intake, while sodas make up 6%. But what’s the big deal? None really…except that overweight or obese Americans now make up over 60% of the population!

Think about that–being overweight or obese is the norm in the U.S. And while many heads are pounding trying to figure out one extravagant reason or another, it’s really no big mystery to me, as I’ve written extensively about it in this blog. In my 2008 book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, I described the role booze plays in weight gain,

With alcohol providing about seven calories per gram, one might mistake it for a great energy source. However, alcohol is metabolized far too slowly for it to be an efficient fuel; and therefore, it is simply converted to fat and stored. Alcohol is also very high in calories compared to carbohydrates and proteins (four calories per gram apiece), which makes it nothing more than an excellent source of weight gain. Unfortunately alcohol has no nutritional value whatsoever–no vitamins, no minerals, nothing—so the pounds it provides come without the added benefits found in food…as a dietary staple, alcohol provides little by way of nutrition.

The study found:

  • On any given day, about one-third of men and one-fifth of women consumed calories from beer, wine or liquor.
  • Averaged out to all adults, the average guy drinks 150 calories from alcohol each day, or the equivalent of a can of Budweiser.
  • The average woman drinks about 50 calories, or roughly half a glass of wine.
  • Men drink mostly beer. For women, there was no clear favorite among alcoholic beverages.
  • There was no racial or ethnic difference in average calories consumed from alcoholic beverages. But there was an age difference, with younger adults putting more of it away.

For reference, a 12-ounce can of regular Coca-Cola has 140 calories, slightly less than a same-sized can of regular Bud. A 5-ounce glass of wine is around 100 calories.

Now let me make something perfectly clear here, something I have also been very open about in this blog: I do not advocate the government placing restrictions on the sale or consumption of either alcohol or soft drinks, as New York has done. In fact, I find it ludicrous. When people need their government to step in and prevent them from becoming fat…well, that’s just pathetic. People need to wake the eff up! I’m telling you right now that booze puts on weight without any nutritional benefit. Sure, getting a buzz on is fun, but if you do it anything more than occasionally, expect to get fat, simple as that. The younger you are, the stronger the illusion of this not happening to you. I promise you with all certainty that if you drink more than occasionally, and you do it for long enough, you will wake up fat one day. G’head…prove me wrong. You’ll lose.

But, no, governments shouldn’t be stepping in and mandating smaller drinks any more than they should have done with sodas. But you might just see this become a new controversy, because as Americans continue to blow up, the powers that be will grasp for anything to try and slow it down. So drink sizes in New York may be next—you may be drinking draft beer out of shot glasses (for $20 a pop) before you know it. Just pointing out the absurdity of regulating what people do with their own bodies, that’s all.

In the end, it’s up to you. Starts with information, so now you know. Booze adds empty calories and anything more than an occasional buzz-up will lead to fatness. Your choice. But don’t cry later and demand the government abolish everyone’s’ rights to drink to fatness, because you knew. Okay that’s all, folks…

Many parents have a hard time disciplining their children. Laying down the law doesn’t come easy to all of us. Some find it so hard that they even risk their child’s health. Check it.Current research from Harvard University shows that many parents of overweight or obese children lacked confidence in implementing and enforcing various lifestyle behaviors that could help their children improve their health. When it came to laying down the law with regard to limiting television viewing, removing TV from children’s bedrooms, cutting back on fast food, reducing intake of sugary drinks, increasing physical activity, and improving the family’s overall eating habits, the parents studied scored pretty poorly in the confidence category. What this means is that these parents (446 surveyed) were unable to satisfactorily push their children to do the right thing.

I know it’s not always easy getting the kids to do what they should be doing–lord, I’ve got two champion tantrum throwers myself; and, of course, not everybody is as hard-assed as I am. But here are some tips that might just help some parents get their children to make a change:

  • Have a strategy–going in blind is a sure way to fail.
  • Start slowly–making drastic changes will create resentment and possibly a revolt.
  • Have your child list all the television programs he or she watches regularly. Have them pick two or three, and let them know they’ve got to dump the rest.
  • Choose a reasonable amount of time you will allow your children to watch T.V. weekly (I personally think 9-12 hours is fair to generous–one hour per night during the week, and two hours each on Saturday and Sunday).
  • No T.V. in the bedroom, period. Same with internet–sorry–too easy to watch via web.
  • Once their allotted time is up. (Click) Shut off the tube, and remove the remote.
  • Set aside time for the whole family to be together for reading or talking. If you don’t like to read, better start–kids do as their parents do.
  • Expect pissin’, moanin’ and grumblin’–stay strong, it’ll pass.

I realize that the age of one’s children will impact the success of this type of plan. No doubt, teens who have developed bad habits will be tough to break, but you’ve got to try anyhow. It’s why I always say, “Start early.” The younger the kids are when you develop habits, the easier it is to influence and form them. Hate to say it, but it might turn out that the only families able to successfully implement this type of regimen might be the ones with youngsters. Nevertheless, I’d try anyway if I were you. Can’t hurt.

Check in tomorrow for tips on how to get your family’s eating habits up to par. For sure, T.V. can be fun; but as a regular habit for kids, it’s as damaging as they come.


We keep hearing about the obesity epidemic, but are chubby people really less healthy? Not according to Japanese researchers who have found that slightly chubby people live longer than their thinner counterparts.

The study was conducted by a health ministry team at Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine. They looked at 50,000 people between the ages of 40 and 79 for over twelve years in the northern Japanese prefecture of Miyagi. What they found was counter to the common wisdom: People who are slightly overweight at age 40 live six to seven years longer than very thin people. Even more startling is that very skinny people had shorter life span than even the obese–by five years!

“We had expected thin people would show the shortest life expectancy but didn’t expect the difference to be this large,” said Shinichi Kuriyama, an associate professor at Tohoku University. The prevailing thought among the researcher was that thinner people would have lower life spans because of underlying illness or smoking. The results remained unchanged, however, when eliminating those factors. The researchers believe the differences are due to thinner people being more susceptible to illness and having weaker blood vessels.

I don’t know about those conclusions but I will say that I’ve always endorsed a “natural” body type and diet. What I mean by this is that I see far too many people pushing their limits to become thin, with the belief that thin is more beautiful and more healthy. I’ve told many a washboard ab desiring client that “zero body fat just ain’t that healthy.” When fantasizing about that Men’s Health cover-boy physique, just know that those young studs are practically starving themselves for that shoot; but you can’t be that way year round. A little spare tire never hurt anybody, but maintaining zero body fat can–and here’s the study to prove it.

Saying that, I know that many of you reading this won’t take heed. You’ll still strive for zero body fat, and that’s cool–no biggie. Just know which contract you are signing because in the end nothing comes without a price.

Campos note: Before taking these results as a license to party, the scientists did conclude that the healthiest people were at their “normal” body weight. Going to town on the Ben & Jerry’s to plump-up a little is ill-advised. More important is that underweight people probably need to add a bit more weight. Again the take home lesson here is that too thin is not always in. Healthy and au natural is certainly better.

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