Eating Breakfast Neither Helps nor Hinders Weight Loss

It’s nearly impossible for us not to believe that what we eat has a profound effect on our health. But what we know about the link between food and health is much less than what we believe. A study published this week provides a perfect example. An overweight person trying to lose weight is likely to hear advice about the importance of eating breakfast. We have some reasons to guess that skipping breakfast might hamper weight loss efforts. Skipping breakfast should increase hunger which m...

ACP Potpourri

Greetings from San Francisco, where I am attending the American College of Physicians 2013 Scientific Program, their annual conference covering the latest progress in internal medicine. Though the conference is obviously geared for physicians, I've compiled below a half dozen points from the various lectures that I think might be of interest to patients. Feel free to skim, and if you want to learn more about any point, follow the links.

Are You Obese?

Americans are getting heavier and have been doing so for decades. One in three adults in the US is obese. Overweight and obese people are more likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other serious health problems. What can be done? Last month the ...

Weight-Loss Surgery More Effective for Diabetes than Medication

About 20 million Americans currently have type 2 diabetes, three times more than in 1980. Diabetes is a major risk factor for stroke and heart attack, is the leading cause of new cases of blindness, and is the largest cause of the need for dialysis. Diabetes is also usually progressive, meaning that on the same medications and on the same diet and exercise regimen, the blood sugar of a patient with diabetes will slowly increase, necessitating constantly increasing amounts of medications. So des...

Why Losing Weight Is So Hard

I’ve written many times that losing weight is the second hardest thing I ask my patients to do. (Breaking an addiction like smoking or alcoholism is the hardest.) The frustrating thing is how little we know about how to lose weight successfully. But we are learning more all the time about why losing weight is so difficult. Much about dieting and weight loss is poorly understood, but let’s first lay out some facts that are well established. Weight loss and weight gain are caused by an i...

Sitting Won’t Kill You, Except on Train Tracks

In the last couple of weeks the media has published stories making it sound like your Ikea chair is a death trap waiting to assist your suicide through the dangerous activity of sitting down. Stories with sensational titles like “Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?” (see link below) make you think that you’re better off walking outside for a smoke. Let’s spend a few minutes sifting the solid science from the wacky conjecture. You might as well sit down for this. The media interest in the idea that si...

Eat Right for Your Belt Size, Not Your Blood Type

Every couple of months I get asked this same question. “Doc, what’s my blood type?” I load my “why you don’t need to know your blood type” speech from my cerebrum and press replay, trying to add a little spontaneous variation for authenticity. “Actually, I’ve never checked it.” “I thought you check everything.” “Nobody checks everything. There are thousands of different available blood tests. Most of them would be completely useless to you.” “Well doc, could you check my blood type?” “I’m...