Losing weight will shorten your life? Not exactly.

A new study finds that people who lost more than 15% of their body weight over a five year period were actually more likely to die than those who didn’t lose weight. What’s more, the biggest losers were more likely to die than people who gained 20% during the same period.

How can this be? We’re constantly bombarded with headlines about the obesity epidemic and how it’s shaving years off our life span. Are you really better off remaining overweight than losing weight? 

Poor health causes weight loss, not the other way around. Click To Tweet

This latest study does not distinguish between intentional and unintentional weight loss, nor did it take into account the cause of death. People who are terminally ill tend to lose weight. But there's a world of difference between losing weight due to serious illness and intentionally losing weight.

Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss

One way to see this quite clearly is to distinguish between the loss of total body weight and the loss of body fat. The loss of total body weight may be associated with increased mortality. But the loss of body fat is associated with increased life span.

Another way to separate out the effect of wasting disease is to distinguish between intentional and unintentional weight loss. Previous studies have shown that while unintentional weight loss is associated with increased risk of death, intentional weight loss can reduce mortality by 15%

The Bottom Line(s)

Actually, I have three bottom lines for you

Bottom Line #1. Losing excess body fat will improve your health.

Bottom Line #2. Losing weight slowly will increase the percentage of body fat you lose.

Bottom Line #3. Losing a modest amount of weight and keeping it off will do more to improve your health than repeatedly losing and gaining large amounts of weight.

Need help with sustainable weight loss? That’s what the Weighless program is all about. ​Learn more.

Fact Check: Three quarters of Americans are chronically dehydrated

Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisI got an email this morning from a blogger asking me to contribute to a post he was doing on ways to drink more water.

“My reason for doing this post,” he wrote, “is the scary fact that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated and it’s probably the same in most countries. The hope is to create “dehydration awareness” and provide inspiration for how others can drink more water.”

(He also happens to operate a website in which he sells lots of water-related products through affiliate links but I’m sure that’s neither here nor there…)

I declined to participate in the post but I was curious about the claim that three-quarters of Americans are chronically dehydrated. A quick Google search shows this exact claim repeated all over the web (although not by any terribly reliable websites).

Where do these “facts” come from?

Continue reading “Fact Check: Three quarters of Americans are chronically dehydrated” >

How Bad for You is Lowfat Milk?

Karina writes: “I am a fan of low-fat dairy. I prefer skimmed milk and fat-free yoghurt. But lately, people have been telling me that low-fat dairy is “bad for you ” and full fat is better. When I ask why, they say it’s something to do with how the fat is removed. Another person says most of the nutrients are in the fat. What is your take on it?” Continue reading “How Bad for You is Lowfat Milk?” >

Trend Alert: What’s the deal with ginger shots?

Leah writes: “I’ve been hearing a lot about ginger shots as way to boost health and nutrition. Would they be good for everyone? What are the upsides and downsides of daily consumption?”

Fresh ginger juice can make for a zingy little pick-me-up. Will it detox your organs, kill cancer cells, or melt away fat? No. But ginger does have some legitimate health benefits. Continue reading “Trend Alert: What’s the deal with ginger shots?” >

NYT protein piece generates more heat than light

imagesThere’s been a lot of buzz this week about a column in the New York Times on the potential consequences of eating “too much” protein.

Well columnist Roni Rabin worries that the popularity of protein powders, drinks, and bars are “making it possible to effortlessly consume protein in amounts that far exceed dietary recommendations.”

She goes on to write that “the vast majority of Americans already get more than the recommended daily amounts of protein.”

But are they really? The Institutes of Medicine–a relatively conservative bunch–recommends that we get between 10 and 35% of our calories from protein. For a 150 pound adult, that translates into a range of 55 to 180 grams of protein per day. Continue reading “NYT protein piece generates more heat than light” >

Is coffee good or bad for PCOS?

coffee-722270_640Q.  My 22-year-old daughter has a mild case of PCOS and we are wondering about the effect of coffee on this condition. There is conflicting advice about this online. What are your thoughts?
A. You’re right! There are conflicting points of view regarding coffee/caffeine and PCOS. Many PCOS experts list coffee as a food to avoid. Yet this PCOS support website recommends coffee in an article on “Best beverages for PCOS”.

Much of the confusion centers around the effects of coffee on insulin sensitivity. As you may know, PCOS sufferers are more likely to develop insulin resistance, which increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Continue reading “Is coffee good or bad for PCOS?” >

Calcium Supplements: Safe or Not?

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The National Osteoporosis Foundation published a new report this week, insisting that calcium supplements are safe for your heart. Two weeks ago, Johns Hopkins cardiologist Erin Michos published a paper saying the opposite.

She notes that the NOF review (which was funded by a pharmaceutical company that makes calcium supplements) omitted certain studies (such as the ones she included in her own review) that might have changed the conclusion.

These are just the latest two volleys in a five-year-long tennis match between experts on whether you should or shouldn’t take calcium supplements.  And you thought politics was divisive.  Continue reading “Calcium Supplements: Safe or Not?” >

How the media distorts science. (Harumph!)

Two items crossed my Facebook feed within the last week or so that were textbook examples of how science is ridiculously twisted in pursuit of clicks.

The first one was just silly.

gin

In her column for the British website Stylist, headlined “5 Reasons Drinking Gin Could  Be Good for You,” Amy Lewis explains that juniper berries contain vitamin C and other antioxidants and phyto-compounds which, she claims, can fight colds and flu, protect the skin from drying, and boost digestion.

Forget for a moment that there is no credible evidence that juniper berries provide any of these health benefits. Let’s pretend, in fact, that these were all demonstrated effects of the juniper berry. What would this have to do with drinking gin? Absolutely nothing. Continue reading “How the media distorts science. (Harumph!)” >