Sunday, June 25, 2006

Weight Problems Not Tied To Slow Metabolism

Societal provoker John Stossel takes on a popular "body myth"

Regardless of what you think about ABC-TV's 20/20 investigative new correspondent John Stossel, the man certainly makes you think about whatever it is he is talking about. And his recent discussion of a common dieting lie is sure to do just that and more with two out of every three Americans dealing with being overweight or obese.

As part of the promotion for his new book entitled Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity : Get Out the Shovel--Why Everything You Know is Wrong , Stossel had several famous diet and nutrition experts on 20/20 to talk about the topic of metabolism. Specifically, what Stossel wanted to know was if the old adage that people who are thin got that way because they have a faster metabolism than overweight and obese people.

You know, that's an excuse that's been around for ages and I've even spouted it to people a time or two in my lifetime. But what proof do we have that it's actually a fact? Are we just assuming it because we're fat and others aren't? But somebody explain why is it that some people are like bottomless pits who can eat food and never seem to gain an ounce while others of us just look at food and it causes us to gain ten pounds? Can I get a witness anyone?

Well, Stossel wanted to find out the answers to those questions and he brought in the big guns to do it.

Dr. Levine constantly walks on his treadmill daily while working

Mayo Clinic obesity researcher Dr. Jim Levine featured two examples of real people on the segment to take a closer look at why one of them was overweight while the other was normal weight. He said the weight difference definitely had to do with their metabolisms, but not necessarily because they were born that way or predetermined to have metabolisms with different speeds.

Kathy was the normal weight woman and Dawn was the overweight one observed by Dr. Levine. Both women were monitored for their activity level using undergarments that kept track of their every move. What Dr. Levine found was that Kathleen moved around a lot more than Dawn, who has a desk job, did. Not surprisingly, Dawn sat for most of the day and so she didn't move around near as much as Kathy.

“Dawn's numbers are actually higher because what we find continuously is that people with weight problems who have obesity have a higher basal metabolism compared to people who are lean,” he explained.

Did you get that? Dr. Levine said the bigger you are the GREATER your basal metabolism (calories burned) and the smaller you are the LESSER your basal metabolism. Now that's the opposite of what most of us thought, isn't it?

In other words, overweight and obese people actually have a higher metabolism but it is because they have to in order to keep up with all that extra weight. I can only imagine what my basal metabolism was when I was 410 pounds! Dubbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbd! Speedy Gonzalez!

Dr. Levine said he has found that people who are overweight or obese actually are sitting down an average of 2 1/2 hours MORE per day than those who are thinner. He added that people who move during the day actually burn 350 calories MORE daily than those who are stuck sitting behind a desk. Dr. Levine said these kind of lethargic occupations that have people sitting all day can actually lead to a weight gain of 30-50 pounds annually! Yikes!

I have personally had a desk job for the past four years and yet I was able to lose 180 pounds in 2004 and keep it off ever since. Dr. Levine is probably right that office workers need to be more active (something this Australian study recommended last year), but I'm not sure my co-workers in my office would go for treadmills in their cubicles! LOL! We'd also need oxygen masks for when they pass out. Hee hee!

One of the things I try to do to break the monotony of sitting behind my desk and in front of a computer all day is to get up frequently for short breaks. This not only refreshes my muscles, but it also gives me a chance to clear my head so I can be a more productive worker for my employer. Of course, drinking up to two gallons of water and diet soda daily also gives me a reason to get up to, er, uh, GO! :D

For Dr. Levine, he has been walking for two straight years on his treadmill that goes at the slow, but steady pace of 1 mph. I'd LOVE to have my cubicle outfitted with a treadmill while doing my work, but I'm sure my co-workers would go batty hearing that machine moving while they talk with customers on the phone. Plus, who's gonna pay for this contraption to be rigged at my desk along with an elevated computer screen, telephone and my other office tools? My employer? HA!

On the subject of rising obesity, Dr. Levine said the excuse of bad genes is invalid because human genes haven't changed in over a century. What he sees as the problem is too many people just sit all the time and need to stand up and move more often. It sounds elementary, but it certainly makes sense.

In addition to my frequent get-up-and-move breaks at work, I also go to the gym during my lunch break for a 30-45 minute workout on the elliptical machine. This is an invigorating, stress-relieving exercise time that I look forward to each day (especially when I go through this kind of week!) to refresh my body from the tension of a long day at work. It's about an hour after lunch and only a few hours before I go home for the day, so lunchtime workouts are a great way to squeeze in some move-your-body time.

Because of the findings of Dr. Levine, Dawn has now gotten her employer to outfit her desk so she can stand up and, in essence, cause her metabolism to rise up to 40 percent faster according to Dr. Levine. I can't help but wonder how many employers woud be as accomodating, though. But who knows unless you ask? My co-workers wouldn't allow it to happen in a million years. LOL!

Health expert Dr. Oz sees no link between metabolism and weight

Stossel also had world-renowned cardiologist Dr. Mehmet C. Oz on his show to confirm the observations of Dr. Levine regarding metabolism.

“It's generally false that your metabolism is the reason for your weight," Dr. Oz noted.

So here we are staring down one of those longstanding myths about why people are obese. STOP BLAMING IT ON YOUR SLOW METABOLISM! That's a cop-out and now you know it is. Start livin' la vida low-carb in conjunction with moving more and you will have the metabolic advantage you need to not only lose weight, but also feel better and healthier than you have ever been in your entire life. Now, get out there and get moving! YOU CAN DO IT!!!


Blogger Lowcarb_dave said...

There is still something a miss.
When Someone is overweight, they can become obese a lot easier, and so on and so on.

Bigger people move less because it takes that much exerction to get them going, and their body is so out of shape.

I've seen these naturally thin people and they can put away a lot of food.

There is more to this than lazyness, especially things like medication and illness.

6/26/2006 3:09 AM  
Blogger 1Peter3 said...

I agree, Dave.

This story of the two co-workers was hardly a scientific study - two people?! That's only one comparative case!

When I was in my 20's, I worked in a department store. I was on my feet all day, 7 hours a day. I gained weight.

I also lost weight (30 or 40 pounds) at the exact same job, doing the exact same amount of physical movement.

What was the difference? My diet. I didn't eat less when I lost the weight, I ate low carb, which most likely had more calories, and definitely had more fat than the "normal" diet that caused me to gain weight.

It may not be metabolism related in the sense of "faster" metabolism versus "slower" metabolism, but it does have something to do with how each person metabolises sugars in their diet. Some have no problem with it at all, others of us might as well just apply sweets and starches directly to our hips and guts, because that's where it's going to end up when we eat it.

6/26/2006 8:26 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

LowCarb Dave is right and John Stossel is still an a**hat. This is just another take on the "you're fat because you don't excersize" BS. I've lived through periods where I didn't have a car and had to ride my bike everywhere, like in Sacramento when I was going to school. I even started lifting weights. You know what? I was fit, I was building muscle, I was eating more veggies and I was STILL as fat as a house.

Of course I move more now that I'm 290 and not 340. Doesn't take a genius to figure that one out.

It's all about carb metabolism. My body is extremely effecient when it comes to metabolizing carbs. Cut the carbs then I can eat normally, lose weight and reach my goal weight.

6/26/2006 1:05 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

Even fat takes calories to maintain, so yes, a fat person would have a higher basal metabolism. I had my resting metabolic rate (RMR) tested twice. The first time it was 1870. After losing more it had dropped to 1610. (RMR is the number of calories you burn at rest. It is not the same as your basal rate, which is the number of calories you need to stay alive.)

I used to be able to eat 2150 calories and lose weight. Now I can't eat more than 1850.

Yes, lean people do move more. I try to always take the stairs somewhere if I can to burn a few extra calories. The other day as I was headed for the stairs out of the BART station, an obese woman walked by me, got on the elevator, and it took it up to the ground level!

6/26/2006 9:02 PM  
Blogger Paul Bowers said...

actually, obese people generally to have slower metabolisms for their body size. bmr for men, in particular, increases linearly up until about 75kg, and then flattens out. this means that your bmr at 80kgs is almost identical to your bmr at 100kgs. john stossel and his crew needs to do a little more research.

6/26/2006 10:12 PM  
Blogger bayit_bourne said...

I notice Stossel didn't explain, then, why some thin people can eat and eat and eat far out of proportion to the amount of movement they do every day, and yet not gain weight - while if a heavier person ate the same amount even for just one day, they would blow up like a baloon. I agree that they don't appear to be tabulating the metabolic rate per ounce or pound of body weight, and that clearly tips the rate of heavy people under than of thinner people. But even if the problem isn't metabolism per se, the only way the above phenomena can be explained is by some sort of measurable difference in biochemical processing somewhere along the line. Stossel's investigation was nothing but fluff.

6/27/2006 10:56 AM  
Blogger LCforevah said...

My sister lost 90 lbs on low carb after years of failure on low fat, high carb diets. While she was losing, she did not change her activities at work or at home. At the time, she took care of her husband, son, and herself, doing no more or no less for them than before.
We all know that these TV people never mention the metabolic and hormonal changes brought about by the low carb way of life.
And, I agree completely with rob's take on Stossel.

6/27/2006 11:45 AM  
Blogger 1Peter3 said...

I noticed in some of the comments about that book on Amazon that it sounds like Mr. Stossel and his crew only do enough research to prove what he believed all along. This amounts to very sloppy unscientific research, and results in very unreliable conclusions.

Not having read the book, I don't know - was there even any mention at all about the two women's diets? Did the two women eat the exact same foods in the exact same amounts?

I'm not saying we don't need to get up and move, that just isn't the whole story here.

6/27/2006 1:21 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Rob is completely right and Stossel is a wanker.

6/28/2006 5:53 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home