Quad Cities, IL/IA

Working with the community... for a healthier community.

Weight Loss and Bad Math


By M. Kathleen Figaro, MD, MS

On average, Americans are eating 425 more calories per day now than they were in 1970s: 425 calories multiplied by 365 days each year equals a total of 155,125 extra calories per year. If we then multiply that by 40 years, it would mean gaining 1,760 extra pounds for the average person. While this suggests that “calories in, calories out” isn’t an exact, one-for-one ratio, it’s still a good indication of the important issue we face.

Hormonal mechanisms (including the hormones ghrelin and leptin) modulate why people are not ballooning up over 1,760 pounds. However, higher calorie intake is a primary factor for increased weight gain, and evidence suggests, at a societal level, Americans are eating more calories and exercising less — so they are getting heavier. Individuals, however, can have genetic, social, emotional, environmental, and psychological factors that contribute to weight gain.

You have heard that endocrinologists, like me, are foolish to say that calories matter, but calories have always mattered to patients of mine who have achieved lasting weight loss. Want to lower your blood glucose levels for up to 60 minutes while you eat a high-carb meal? There are ways, even if you have diabetes. Weight loss can be fast or slow, depending on the route you take. If results are fast, increasing your self-discipline long-term isn’t as necessary. However, fast weight loss tends to lead to fast regain of weight. Here is a summary of all diets I’ve read in the past 12 months: eat more vegetables. Eat less saturated fat. Exercise more and burn more calories. Eat more omega-3 fatty acids. Eat fewer processed carbohydrates. These are all lifestyle and eating habit changes that occur from consistent decisions over time.

However, let me tell you how hard it can be to do the above without support, and finding the right support can be hard to do. Avoid all the misleading promises of supplements and sports nutrition: results of “clinical trials” that were never peer-reviewed and creative labeling are examples. Often, just a quick search will show a clinical trial that will debunk the claims of an advertisement.

Weight loss is confusing and frustrating to us all — so complicated, so difficult to achieve, so difficult to maintain. Want a personalized approach based on your prior attempts, your current diagnoses, and your hormonal profiles? Come in for an assessment at Heartland Endocrine Group for a discussion of your specific causes for weight gain and for methods that will lead to lasting weight loss.

Heartland Endocrine Group is located at 4620 E. 53rd Street, Davenport, IA. For more information and to schedule an appointment, call our office at 563-424-6306 or visit us online at www.heartlandendocrinegroup.com.