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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…

Short and sweet.  I’ve never bought the bull that obesity is genetic.  Too easy, removes personal responsibility or accountability, and dishonors all overweight people by telling them its beyond their control.  I make the point in my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, that even if genetics has a role in obesity, one is still bound by the laws of physiology–more calories in than out…weight gain; more calories out than in…weight loss; equal calories in and out…maintenance.  Gene or no gene, that’s the truth.

A new British study confirms my point: Exercise cuts a person’s genetic predisposition to obesity by 40%Well, no freakin’ shit-take mushrooms.

Researchers looked at over 20,000 people in Norwich, England and focused on genetic variants known to increase the risk of obesity.  Most people had inherited 10 to 13 of these variants from their parents.  Those obesity inheritors that exercised had 36% less weight gain per genetic variant than sedentary inheritors, and each additional obesity-susceptibility variant increased the odds of obesity by 1.1-fold.   This risk, however, was 40% lower for active people compared to inactive people.

In a nutshell: Fat genes or not, exercise obliterates obesity.  No more excuses.


I recently had the question* posed to me, “If there is an easy answer to weight loss, why is our country filled with so many unhealthy, overweight people?” I think this is a fabulous question since the answer certainly uncovers some of the hidden factors behind obesity.

First, obesity is a consequence of an addiction to food. I’m not talking about merely being overweight, here–I mean obesity and, most certainly, severe obesity. Being overweight can be the result of a number of things: eating the wrong foods (eating many meals out, for instance), neglecting exercise, twelve-pack of beer every weekend, and so forth; bad habits, if you will.

Obesity, however, has an addiction component. Obese people are drawn to food either for sensory pleasures (taste) or emotionally. Emotional eaters eat when they are stressed out, pissed off, hurt, elated, embarrassed, and any other number of emotional stressors that lead one to escape. So food, therefore, is a way for some people to avoid these uncomfortable feelings, whether they are conscious of it or not.

An eating addiction is like any other addiction: a combined enjoyment and escape. Drinkers have it, smokers have it, gamblers have it, and sex addicts have it–it’s a momentary checking out, a retreat from unpleasant feelings, whatever they may be. Often, it’s a totally unconscious act; the addiction becomes habit.

So, as I said in my New Year’s Resolutions article on weight loss, the first step is a true heartfelt desire for change. Some people aren’t inspired to lose weight; they attempt it because of societal pressures. Only true inspiration leads to actions that will endure the pain and pleasures of undertaking a weight-loss endeavor. Anything else will fail when it gets too tough. That’s one reason some people can’t lose weight.

Next, a realistic game plan must be constructed. This is where our topic of The Biggest Loser comes in. A healthy strategy must be implemented and carried out, like any venture, be it business, financial investing, family planning, or weight loss. Without a reasonable or healthy plan, not only is failure likely, but complications can arise.

At the very least, the person losing weight runs the risk of putting it all back on again. This is the part of the strategy that requires lifestyle changes. Without them, the whole endeavor ends up momentary, and it’s exactly why Biggest Loser contestants have such a high rate of weight regain.

Finally, and most importantly, the mental component to the addiction must be balanced. Essentially this means finding the pleasures and pains associated with the eating addiction for each individual. There is no cookbook here, if you’ll forgive the pun; it’s individualized and specific. That takes work. People who lose weight without clearing the mental component that leads them to gravitate toward food in the first place, find themselves back off the wagon when emotional crisis hits. Think Oprah’s battles and struggles with weightshe’s an admitted emotional eater. Yeah, fail to address the emotional component and long-term weight loss will be unattainable.

To further complicate matters is the necessity of food for energy conversion and nutritional needs. So it’s easy to see that obesity is a multi-factorial issue that needs attention to a number of components. I hope that answers the question of, “If losing weight had an easy answer…” I think it’s not so much that the answer evades us, it’s just that we approach it from such simplicity, AND many people are missing the forest for the trees by looking for very complicate answers (genetics, hormonal disorders, etc.). Let’s observe Okham’s Razor and see that the simplest solution is probably the most correct. But obesity does have a number of sides that need attention, and that’s why so many people are struggling with it.

*Thank you Jeanne M. for the great question.

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.

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