Obesity

Fitter, Happier

Have you ever heard that Radiohead song with the creepy computer voice telling you how to live a “fitter, happier, more productive” life? Regular exercise, not drinking too much, eating well, getting on better with your associates. Sardonic or not, it seems like we’re constantly inundated with recommendations for healthy living: eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day, get 150 minutes of exercise every week, don’t drink more than two glasses of wine a night.

The big question though, is, does anyone actually follow these guidelines?

Everyone poops: A weight loss story

​It seems like we are always looking for a quick and easy weight loss solution. We spend millions of dollars every year on gym memberships, workout equipment, dietary supplements and self-help books in the vain attempt to lose those last 5 (or 10 or 20) pounds. Unfortunately, most of these attempts fail miserably and we end up right back where we started, if not worse. But what if there was an easier way? What if there was one simple solution to losing all that excess weight for good? What if all it took was a stool transplant. Would you do it?

Yes, fecal matter. That embarrassing brown lumpy bodily expulsion. We learned from an early age that Everyone Poops, and now a recent study has hinted that with the right transfer, somebody else’s poop could help you lose weight.

The second piece of chocolate

Imagine you have a piece of chocolate. Unwrap it, place it on your tongue. Savor its decadence as it melts in your mouth; relish the bitter and sweet coating your taste buds; indulge in its creamy texture. As the chocolate dissolves, signals are sent throughout your body. Chemicals are released, reinforcing its rewarding properties and preparing your body for the rush of sugar it is about to receive. You swallow. Immediately you want another piece.

The pleasure of eating is one of our most natural joys, be it savoring a perfectly cooked steak or delighting in that melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. But with the rise of obesity and related maladies – particularly cardiovascular disease, hypertension and type-II diabetes – such simple pleasures have been perverted, pathologized by experts and classed as a source of harm. With nearly 25% of English adults qualifying as obese, and with ensuing costs to the NHS reaching £5.1 billion each year, the UK is facing a self-induced public health pandemic. But how has this happened? And why can’t we all just put down that second piece of chocolate?

That Diet Coke isn't so diet anymore

While everyone is working on their New Year's resolutions for 2012, either making them or not breaking them, I thought it would be a good time to write about a trio of articles on sugar and artificial sweeteners and their respective health consequences. A piece published in New York Times magazine several months ago raised the alarm on the extreme health detriments of our sugar habits.

 Author Gary Taubes cited Dr. Robert Lustig, a researcher in pediatric obesity and hormone deficiencies, as promoting the idea that sugar, not fat, is the main cause for the dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes, hypertension and other "western diet" diseases seen in the last 30 years. These particular detriments stem from the way our bodies metabolize fructose (which makes up half of the refined sugar molecule sucrose), as opposed to pure glucose, which makes up the other half and is found in foods such as potatoes and white bread.