Three new studies cited in Nutrition Action (Nov 2012), a health newsletter published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, again offer strong evidence that sugary drinks lead to obesity. 1). A Dutch study assigned 641 normal-weight children aged 4 to 12 to drink one cup a day of a beverage sweetened with either sugar (104 calories-about the same as a Coca Cola) or the artificial sweetener Splenda. After 1& 1/2 years, weight, waist size, and body fat increased more in the youngsters who got the sugary drinks; note: Children in the US consume on average almost three times as many calories from sugar-sweetened beverages as the amount provided in this trial-is it any wonder why US kids are getting fatter? 2). A Boston Children’s Hospital study looked at 224 overweight and obese 9th or 10th graders who regularly drank at least one 12 oz serving of sugary beverages a day. Half got home deliveries of calorie-free beverages (water and diet drinks) plus phone calls and visits encouraging them to switch to calorie-free drinks. The other half got a $50 gift card to a local supermarket after being in the study for four months and another $50 gift card after eight months. After one year, the gift-card recipients had gained significantly more weight than those on the diet drinks. 3). Another study at the Harvard School of Public Health examined 32 gene variations linked to obesity in roughly 28,000 women and men who were not obese when the study started. For every 10 obesity-prone gene variations the participants had, the risk of becoming obese over the next 6 to 18 years was three times higher in those who consumed at least one sugary beverage a day than in those who drank less than one a month. Lesson; sugary beverages increase the risk of fat gain and obesity, and is the leading cause of obesity in children. I don’t like recommending diet sodas; stick with water or teas. It’s tough with kids, but it’s tougher on them to let them drink sugary drinks frequently.

I saw a recent Dr. Oz show where he extolled the virtues of raspberry ketones. He called it the #1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat, tricking your body into thinking it’s thin.” Since I had never heard of raspberry ketones, I thought I’d check out the science behind them. As it turns out, raspberry ketones have never been studied in humans for weight loss, or anything else. In the only study on weight in animals, six overweight mice were fed a high-fat diet for 5 weeks in which they added 7% body weight, while six similar rats fed the same high-fat diet plus raspberry ketones gained no weight. That’s the extent of the studies that I’m aware of. While I like Dr. Oz and his zeal for helping people with their health, I think he may be over-reaching with this one. Coincidentally, an article on raspberry ketones was published last week in the Wall Street Journal (Oct 30, 2012), saying that there was no human studies on its use as a supplement for weight loss. In addition, since you’d have to eat a lot of raspberries to consume even a small amount of ketones, the compounds are being synthesized in laboratories and sold as weight-loss supplements. Evidently, these supplements are flying off the shelves….. really. Personally, I’ll wait until there is more proof before I recommend it to you folks.

Tooting my own horn department: Since April 8th, 2011, to today, I have lost 27 pounds, and holding steady (I’d been trying to lose 10 pounds or so ever since I had to give up running several years ago). My wife, Cynthia, has lost 10 pounds over the past 4 months. How? We both cut portion sizes in half, and have adopted my high-intensity/short burst workouts 4-5 days per week. No gimmicks, no fad diets, just sensible eating. And, we both have almost cut breads out of our meals, and cut way back on sugar and refined (white) grains and pastas. If you’d like to discuss your own dietary regimen, contact me by email at, or by phone at 602-316-6026.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.