Category Archives: News & Research


Suffering From Osteoarthritis? Your Weight Could Increase Pain

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If you have any variation of arthritis, you know the pain can be unbearable.

I recently came across this article that shows the importance of weight loss to help reduce the pain in osteoarthritis patients. From the article:

Overweight and obese people with arthritis in their knees tend to report more pain than slimmer people with the chronic joint disease, suggests a new study. This study goes a step further. It suggests that people with a higher body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight in relation to height, may have more pain than normal-weight people with the same amount of arthritis-related damage.

We know from previous studies that fat cells produce toxins that induce inflammation in the body, including the joints. So when a person looses weight, they get relief of their pain due to reducing the inflammation in their joints and their weight loss.

Therefore, obese osteoarthritis patients can delay the need for surgery and knee and hip replacement by simply focusing on leading a healthier lifestyle and getting involved in a weight loss program.

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The Importance of Regular Physical Activity to Reduce Mobility Problems

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It shouldn’t come as a shock that incorporating regular physical activity into your life will help lower your chances of dealing with health issues in the future.

But, in case you were questioning the validity of that claim, here’s new proof: A recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Association found that people in their 70s and 80s who took part in a moderate-intensity exercise program over several years were more likely to retain their ability to get around independently. More from a Reuters Health article:

The results add to a growing body of evidence that regular physical activity may help to keep older adults moving as they age, said the study’s lead author.

“The key issue is that we did not have until now definitive evidence where physical activity could prevent a major outcome such as (loss of) mobility in adults,” Dr. Marco Pahor, director of the Institute on Aging at the University of Florida, Gainesville, said.

We all want to enjoy retirement and avoid mobility problems at all costs, right? That’s why I encourage my patients to incorporate frequent physical activity into their lifestyle at a young age. And, for my older patients, I stress that it’s better to start now than never!

Don’t think you have to run a marathon or do intense cardio workouts to see the benefit of physical activity. Walking 1-3 miles a couple times a week can do wonders for your physical health.

Stay updated on all the weight loss news and tips we share by subscribing to the Virtual Weight Management blog via RSS or by entering your email in the top right corner.


Breakfast For Kids: Stay Away From Sugary Cereal

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Cereal is a quick and easy option for breakfast for kids, but a recent study discovered U.S. children are consuming more than 10 pounds of sugar annually if they eat a typical morning bowl of cereal. More from this Reuters article:

The Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based health information non-profit, said its report covers more than 1,500 cereals, including 181 marketed to children.

As part of the report, the group re-examined 84 cereals it studied in a similar report in 2011, and found that the sugar content of those cereals remained on average at 29 percent. Some cereals had increased sugar content now compared to 2011, and none of the 181 cereals marketed to children was free of added sugars, the group found. On average, children’s cereals have more than 40 percent more sugars than adult cereals, EWG said.

This article shows how breakfast choices can have a significant impact on children’s weight due to high sugar content in what many of us consider a basic breakfast tradition.

I encourage my patients who are parents to read the labels on cereal boxes before they buy them. All cereal high in sugar will make kids more hungry and promote weight gain, especially when the portion size is only 3/4 cup.

For breakfast for kids, I recommend switching to a high protein breakfast like Greek yogurt and eggs (or egg whites). If your kids love cereal, consider a high protein cereal like the Kashi brand or Nature Valley protein bars. You can also give your kids low calorie oatmeal packs that are about 100 calories each.

The important thing to remember is the food choices you make for your children now will have a significant impact on their future health, so stay away from high sugar foods!

Stay updated on all the weight loss news and tips we share by subscribing to the Virtual Weight Management blog via RSS or by entering your email in the top right corner.

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Important News on Fraudulent Weight Loss Claims

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There are a lot of myths about weight loss out there, when the only real solution to losing weight is to eat healthy and keep an active lifestyle with regular exercise.

When patients come in frustrated with unsuccessful weight loss efforts, they often contemplate using or consuming diet products that promise results without much effort. I encounter patients on a daily basis asking about these fake weight loss claims endorsed by the supplement industry and television talk show hosts. Many of these “miracle” weight loss products are endorsed by the popular talk show host, Dr. Oz.

Recently, Dr. Oz and his weight loss product claims have come under heavy scrutiny by the government in an effort to protect consumers from false claims about these weight loss supplements. Dr. Oz even stated during his questioning, “I recognize that oftentimes they (the items I talk about on my show) don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact.”

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also stated during the panel with Dr. Oz that more Americans claimed they were victims of fake weight loss claims than any other type of reported fraud. This is even further proof that these weight loss claims are scams to sell fake products that do not work.

I urge all my patients and anyone interested in weight loss to realize that there is no scientific proof to products claiming to lose excessive amounts of weight in short periods of time. And if the products do happen to work, you’ll probably see most of that weight return as soon as you discontinue taking them and settle back into old, unhealthy habits.

Teaming up with a knowledgeable weight loss expert who has both certifiable education and experience is a great way to help you stay on track toward your goals, especially when you have questions about issues like weight loss supplements. The only way to true weight loss success is taking an active role in your diet and activity, and developing new healthy habits that will lead you to long-term weight loss success.

Stay updated on all the weight loss news and tips we share by subscribing to the Virtual Weight Management blog via RSS or by entering your email in the top right corner.

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Obesity Digest – Obesity in the News Today

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I guess it comes as no surprise that I tend to keep an eye out every week for news articles and stories regarding obesity and weight loss. As some might say, I have a dog in this fight. Battling my obesity is one fight I plan to win – and information is key!

So, here are a few obesity news articles that caught my eye and may be of interest to our readers:

LA Times – Girls called ‘too fat’ are more likely to become obese, study finds

This article really hit me on a very visceral level, as I really hate that some people out there believe “fat shaming” is a viable motivational tool to get obese people to diet. As someone subjected to many, many years of “fat shaming” by well-meaning family and friends, I already knew how counterproductive it can be to one’s feelings about him or herself, and consequently, on his or her outlook on life.

It’s nice to see there is a study that shows how “fat shaming” can not only be counterproductive, but actually increases the probability that an obese child will be likely to become an even more obese young adult.

Huffington Post – What Causes Obesity? Top Cardiology Journal Spreads Confusion

It’s troubling to see how far behind the times that some members of the medical community are in regard to the why’s and how’s of obesity. Thankfully, Dr. Jeff Ritterman posted this excellent piece debunking a study in the Journal of American College of Cardiologists. In my opinion, this physician points the blame directly where it should be pointed – not at the obese patients who aren’t active enough to burn calories, according to Journal’s findings, but at the companies that present an endless variety of sugar-filled beverages, candy and carbohydrate-rich foods to American consumers.

I’ve long been a proponent that, as a nation, we should not be subsidizing “bad” foods and beverages loaded with sugar and carbs with taxpayer dollars as we do. Instead, we should shift those tax dollars to subsidize industries that provide good, whole foods like fresh meats, vegetables and fruits. Let’s face it, as dieters, we know the world around us is teeming with cheap, carb-heavy foods in every direction, but what we really need are more healthy, affordable options for food.

Isn’t it troubling that eating healthy food is so much more expensive than eating the bad carb-loaded stuff?

USA Today – Couric’s ‘Fed Up’ documents kids’ obesity crisis

Speaking of obesity and the food industry, this article takes a look at the new documentary by Katie Couric, Fed Up. It opened nationwide on Friday, May 9th and looks the relationship between childhood obesity and the modern food industry square in the face.

Certainly, one can’t blame poor food choices and bad eating habits on the fast food and junk food industries alone. But, it seems that this film reveals some disturbing facts about how the suppliers of junk food, fast food and sugar-rich sodas have used some pretty awful tactics to get kids hooked on bad food at a very young age. Personally, I really look forward to seeing what this documentary has to say, and I have a feeling many of us who struggle with obesity might gain some insights viewing a movie like Fed Up.

Stay updated on all the weight loss news and tips we share by subscribing to the Virtual Weight Management blog via RSS or by entering your email in the top right corner.


Shed Virtual Weight in Selfies With New App…Not So Fast

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What will they think of next?

A new app called SkinneePix lets users shed virtual weight and can trim from five to 15 pounds of virtual fat for a slimmer selfie look.

The founder explains more in this article on Reuters:

“Cameras add additional weight to photos and when you’re taking a selfie you’re also dealing with bad lighting, angles, close-ups and a lot of other factors that make people complain that the photo isn’t an accurate representation of themselves,” said Susan Green, co-founder of the Phoenix-based company Pretty Smart Women that created the app.

While I understand Susan’s rationale, this app concerns me that people who use it have self image problems and they could be in denial that they’re facing serious weight problems. This type of denial and self image issues can, in severe cases, lead to eating disorders.

My patients who I’ve helped successfully lose weight noticed significant improvements in their social life and even in their careers. Some were promoted and got a raise due to their new positive outlook on work and life in general. They were more confident, assertive and productive…all due to them getting down to a healthier weight.

If you aren’t happy with your weight and want to look slimmer in selfies, why not talk to a physician who can set you up on a weight loss program, rather than using an app to help you shed virtual weight?

Losing real pounds sounds like a much smarter option to me! Do you agree?

Stay updated on all the weight loss news and tips we share by subscribing to the Virtual Weight Management blog via RSS or by entering your email in the top right corner.

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Losing Baby Weight: Important Information You Need to Know

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I recently came across some very important data that supports my message to new mothers that losing baby weight is crucial in order to avoid potential health risks.

From this BBC News Health article:

“There may be a scientific basis for the post-pregnancy adage, ‘Nine months on, nine months off’. Doctors in Canada say three to 12 months after birth is the key time to start losing the ‘baby weight’. Mothers who fail to lose excess weight within a year after delivery or put pounds on may be risking their health, they report in Diabetes Care. Women in this group have higher blood pressure and other risk factors for later diabetes and heart disease.

Women who do not make the effort to lose weight after pregnancy actually increase their chance of developing health problems during the next pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and premature delivery.

I have been working with and educating mothers for the past 15 years on losing baby weight, starting as early as three months after delivery. My team and I also work with future mothers who are planning to have a family but need to lose weight first in order to have a healthy pregnancy.

I encourage women of all ages, whether they just had a baby, had one five years ago or plan to have one soon, to start eating healthy now and to focus on living an active lifestyle – before, during and after pregnancy.

I want women to know that losing baby weight isn’t as cumbersome as they think it is.

Want to talk more about this topic? I’d love to hear from you!

Photo Credit: billnwmsu via Compfight cc


Dr. Sam Downloads on Eating Disorders and Weight Gain

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Eating disorders and weight gain is a sensitive subject, and I truly empathize with anyone who has ever struggled with an eating disorder. But, prevention starts with awareness and discussion, so I believe it’s important to educate and talk about this topic so we’re all aware of how to prevent serious eating disorders from affecting our loved ones.

I recently came across an article with a study from the United Kingdom related to how teen eating disorders may impact weight later. From the article:

Researchers looked for early symptoms of eating disorders among more than 7,000 13-year-olds and found certain symptoms predicted which children would have weight problems at age 15. Girls who engaged in binge eating at 13 tended to have a higher body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight relative to height, two years later.

My humble opinion on this study and the topic of eating disorders and weight gain is that parents’ lifestyle and eating habits can impact their children’s health and weight. It’s extremely important that parents pay attention to their children’s eating habits and start introducing nutritious food and promoting healthy portions early in life. 

I also think it’s critical for parents to encourage physical activities and sports. Rather than forcing them to play outside when they’re glued to the TV or iPad, find a way to play with them to encourage them to get away from the screen for awhile.

Most research studies about childhood obesity I’ve come across show the best way to combat this epidemic is through prevention and early intervention. Addressing this problem requires a partnership among government agencies, schools and parents.


Dr. Sam Downloads on Diet Soda and Obesity

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Reuters recently reported on how Johns Hopkins University analyzed data from a U.S. survey of 24,000 people over a period of 10 years related to diet soda and obesity. From the article:

In the study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, overweight drinkers of diet beverages in the United States ate 1,965 in food calories a day compared to 1,874 calories among heavy people who drank regular sugar-sweetened beverages.

Among obese diet beverage drinkers, those who consumed low- or no-calorie drinks ate 2,058 calories a day in food versus 1,897 food calories for those who had regular drinks, researchers said.

My take on this study is it does not prove diet drinks cause an increase in appetite because there are many other studies that show artificial sweeteners have no affect on appetite.

However, it does prove why the invention of diet drinks did not solve the obesity crisis in America. We continue to consume foods with large portions and prepare our meals in a way that increases calories, which exceeds the calories we saved by using diet drinks.

Although several large food and beverage companies have successfully removed billions of calories from the products they sell in the United States in an effort to combat obesity, I firmly believe that reducing calories will not resolve the obesity epidemic in America until we educate people of all ages on how to make better eating choices. Many food and beverage companies use labeling that makes it very confusing for the average person to spot the danger in what they eat and drink. I believe the FDA needs to update its labeling policies to simplify and standardize them across all food groups.

The truly important takeaway from the diet soda and obesity study is we need to keep track of our calories if we want to lose weight, like my friend Michael Evans suggests in his post about keeping a food journal. It doesn’t matter if the calories are from food or drinks. If you’re working on losing weight, you must count all the calories you consume.

To lose weight successfully, you need a comprehensive plan that takes into consideration the quantity and quality of calories you consume and incorporates a means to be physically active. Plain and simple.