Many of you want to lose weight. It seems like half the self-help books sold in New York promise you’ll slim down just by reading the book.
A patient asked me recently whether a “fat-buster” pill their neighbor was selling for “only” $5 a day – do the math, that’s $1,825 a year – would really help them shed the pounds. I said no, thinking that it would certainly shed some dollars from their wallet.
Obesity runs in the family for many of my patients. There is no one gene that causes obesity, but scientists think there are a set of genes that just might turn up the appetite and turn down the metabolism.
We all know that some people are prone to put on weight if they even seem to look at food, while others can eat with apparent impunity.
For years, I have thought that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. But new research published in the British Medical Journal is so interesting. It appears that for some people who have obesity genes, fried foods may be the worst to eat – the ones most likely to add those love handles.
Researchers at Harvard combined three studies of 40,000 men and women, looking at their weight, smoking history, how much they exercised and what they ate: total calories as well as types of food. They did this through a series of questionnaires asking such things as, “What did you eat today?” “Was this at home or in a restaurant?” “Was it fast food?”
Americans have a love affair with fast food. On any given day, one out of three Americans patronize a fast-food restaurant. I’d never have guessed it to be that high. And fast food is fried food.
The researchers then looked at blood samples, devising a 1-to-4 scoring system – with “1” being the most prone to obesity and “4” being the least – for the 60 genes they think are responsible for obesity.
Among those in the highest risk group for obesity, fried foods were the most likely to put on the pounds – twice as likely as for those in the low obesity-risk group.
Don’t get me wrong, eating too much overall was a factor for the entire group, but for those genetically predisposed to obesity, eating too many fat calories was toxic.
My spin: Obesity is more complex than we ever thought. It’s not just about how much you eat, but what you eat.
Cut down on the fat and you might be slimmer by Independence Day.
Dr. Zorba Paster is a physician, university professor, author and broadcast journalist. He also hosts a radio program at 3 p.m. Saturdays on WBFO-FM 88.7; email questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.