Weight Loss Advice Is Hard To Stomach



Science. It can help us see back to the first nano-seconds of the birth of the universe 14 billion years ago. It has let us peer into the quantum depths of the sub-atomic world. It has enabled us to unleash the power of the atom both for good and to cause unimaginable destruction.

It has no idea how to stop us from getting fat.

The New York Times recently ran an article on the latest weight-loss evidence, pointing to a low-carb, high fat diet.

But really, you can ignore it, because next week it will doubtless be contradicted by a new study promulgating the pound-losing properties of a diet consisting of high carbs and low fat. Or high protein and high fat. Or low protein, high carbs and no fat. These “tribal” nutritional factions have been forming and shifting weight-loss alliances more often than nationalist groups in the Middle East.

In the end – and the front as well, for that matter – it doesn’t matter. We remain fat. And are getting fatter.

When I say “we,” I don’t mean “you.” (Actually there’s a good chance I mean “you,” but let’s give you the benefit of the doubt.) I mean we, the peoples of the planet. Despite numerous warnings about the dangers of morbid obesity, countless best-sellers, products and TV infomercials touting this or that latest miracle diet breakthrough, and medical procedures that liposuction, clamp, shrink and wire shut various orifices and body parts, we continue to expand. A study revealed that over the last 35 years, not a single country has lowered its obesity rate.

Most countries packed on the pounds, and Asian and other nationalities that used to be models of svelteness are increasingly gaining weight, as their diets are becoming more westernized. The masses keep getting more massive. The only thing shrinking is our willpower. The weak shall inherit the girth.

But we hardly need look abroad for evidence that we are becoming broader. Right here in these United States – but mostly in the South, where the politics are half-baked and the food is mostly fried, morbid obesity is becoming so prevalent that “regular” obesity is starting to look like a healthy alternative. In Mississippi and Alabama, which rank as our two “fattest states”, a full (and I mean full) 1/3 of the populace ranks as “hefty.”

Ironically, these states are among the most opposed to Obamacare.

Any day now a prominent nutritionist will win The Nobel Prize for discovering that our problem was the American public didn’t realize that watching “The Biggest Loser” wasn’t enough, it had to exercise, too.

Now that let-me-fit-into-this-bathing-suit season is over and the Thanksgiving/holiday party season is nigh upon us, it’s inevitable that we here at home will be letting our collective belts out another notch or two. To be followed by end-of-year Resolutions to lose the lard and a January rush to sign up at the local health club (as opposed to a rush to actually use the local health club).

And contradictory diet advice is just one aspect of the schizophrenic food/health scene. There is, for instance, the question of what to do about salt. One study estimates that sodium consumption kills over 1.6 million people a year. The next one warns that ingesting too little is even worse.

It’s no wonder we’re jittery wrecks, even before indulging in our major caffeine addiction.

Speaking of coffee, before you make that first morning cup it’s a good idea to go online to obtain that day’s new study on whether coffee depletes your system or enhances performance.

With all the diametrically opposed advice running around, it’s also easy to get exercised about exercise. Twenty minutes is good. Five minutes does the trick. Too much is bad. Walking to your car counts. You can’t spot reduce. But do these crunches and you’ll have six-pack abs. “Fat” calories are the worst. All calories are the same. Advice on spinning classes alone can make your head spin.

With all the constantly changing data, studies, warnings and such, what we need is something constant, something we can depend on.

The good news is that we have such a thing.

The bad news is: it’s that, no matter what we do, we continue to get fatter.


About Stan Sinberg

Stan is an award-winning newspaper columnist, radio commentator, and features writer whose humor has appeared in everything from the NY Times to WSJ and MAD Magazine. Stan is a native New Yorker living on the west coast. His website is www.stansinberg.com and you can email him at stan@stansinberg.com or follow him on Twitter @ssinberg1
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