Dieting Done Right: Healthy Weight-Loss Strategies

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Oh yes, this is it: the last few days of the holidays, meaning that after midnight Wednesday, when the New Year rings in, several tens of millions of Americans will start thinking about how to take off the pounds they started putting on back in November — or before that.

When I googled “diet” just now, I got more results than there are people in this country. No surprise that weight loss is pretty much “everyone’s No. 1 resolution,” said Dr. Jennifer Slovis, who leads the weight management program at Kaiser Oakland. She joined a discussion about weight loss on KQED’s Forum Monday morning.

The first thing they did on the show was dispatch the idea that fad diets can work for you long term. “We really only support evidence-based therapies,” said Katie Ferraro, a registered dietitian and professor at the UC San Francisco School of Nursing. “Unfortunately, those are kind of boring: ‘Eat less and exercise more’ are not the sexiest messages out there.”

While you should avoid fad diets, the Forum guests all agreed that individuals have flexibility in how they get to “eating less and exercising more.” Continue reading

Video: San Pablo Line-Dancing Class Helps People Step to Better Health

By Lynne Shallcross

Soul Line Dancers from Lynne Shallcross on Vimeo.

On a recent Tuesday night in San Pablo, singer Patti LaBelle’s voice blared from a black stereo inside a florescent-lit classroom in the newly built San Pablo Community Center.

Inside, nearly two dozen dancers were working up a sweat to LaBelle’s soulful voice as Patricia Lowe called out dance steps for them to follow.

“Five, six, seven, eight! Go one-two! One-two! One, two, three, four. Now shake it!”

Two days a week, Lowe — whose dance name is Chocolate Platinum — leads what she calls a “soul line dance” class. It’s a chance for community members to get together and dance for health and wellness, and have fun at the same time.  Continue reading

Mom’s 30 Day Ab Challenge Goes Viral on Facebook

Still, don't expect abs of steel at the end of 30 days. (Jessica Quinn/Flickr)

Still, don’t expect abs of steel at the end of 30 days. (Jessica Quinn/Flickr)

By Whitney Blair Wyckoff, NPR

Robyn Mendenhall Gardner was amazed when what started off as a monthlong ab workout challenge between friends and family caught fire on the Web.

More than 2.7 million people have signed on to the challenge.
The Montana mother of eight told Shots she came across a 30-day ab fitness plan online and, after having a tough time finishing it, turned it into a Facebook event to motivate herself.

Within days, the Facebook challenge went viral. At last count, more than 2.7 million people had signed up. And Gardner’s challenge attracted attention from major media outlets, including Good Morning America.

The challenge features a daily series of progressively longer sets of crunches, planks, sit ups and leg lifts. Participants have taken to the Facebook event’s wall, reporting their progress and encouraging each other to stick with it. The challenge lasts through the end of June. Continue reading

Exercise Cuts Breast Cancer Risk for All Women, of All Ages, Everywhere

(Getty Images)

Women who exercised an hour a day saw the greatest risk reduction, but women who weren’t as active also reduced their risk. (Getty Images)

By Nancy Shute, NPR

This could be the simplest bit of health advice ever: Exercise reduces women’s risk of breast cancer, no matter what kind of exercise they do, how old they are, how much they weigh, or when they get started.

The more active a woman is, the better her odds of avoiding breast cancer. 

Researchers in France looked at studies that involved more than 4 million women around the world who participated in prospective studies from 1987 to 2013. They found that the more active a woman is, the better her odds of avoiding breast cancer. Women who were most active, with more than an hour a day of vigorous activity, got the most benefits, lowering their cancer risk by 12 percent.

But women who weren’t as active saw reduced risk, too, notes Mathieu Boniol, research director at the Strathclyde Institute for Global Public Health in Lyon, France. More activity was better, but anything was better than nothing. He presented the data Thursday at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Glasgow. Continue reading

Back Pain? Exercise May Help You Learn Not to Feel It

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By Patti Neighmond and Richard Knox, NPR

More than 1 in 4 adult Americans say they’ve recently suffered a bout of low-back pain. It’s one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor. And more and more people are being treated for it.

America spends more than $80 billion a year on back pain treatments. But many specialists say less treatment is usually more effective.

In fact, there’s evidence that many standard treatments for back pain — surgery, spinal injections and painkillers — are often ineffective and can even worsen and prolong the problem.

Dr. Jerome Groopman agrees with that premise. He suffered back pain for almost 20 years. He was a young marathon runner 32 years ago when back pain struck out of the blue.

“I couldn’t run. It was difficult to sleep,” he says. “I wasn’t confined to bed, but I was hobbling around.” Continue reading

How To Get Patients To Exercise More



You can relax. This is not a story about how much exercise you should be getting. (Although just writing that line made me get up off my chair and take full advantage of my stand-up desk.)

Instead, it’s a story about the power of asking — and measuring. Kaiser Permanente ran a pilot program at four of its 15 medical centers in Northern California and reported Thursday that patients who were asked about exercise lost slightly more weight than patients who weren’t.

Disclaimer: we’re not talking big amounts. Overweight patients in the pilot group lost 0.2 pounds more than those not in in the program. Patients with diabetes had a 0.1 percent greater decline in their blood sugar levels — known as the A1C test. These are not big numbers individually, but the study points to something bigger — the power of an organized system to improve patients’ health. Continue reading

Recipe For Strong Teen Bones: Exercise, Calcium and Vitamin D

Exercise helps build strong bones for a lifetime, says one expert. (KG Sand Soccer/Flickr)

Exercise helps build strong bones for a lifetime, says one expert. (KG Sand Soccer/Flickr)

By Patti Neighmond, NPR

It’s really only a sliver of time when humans build the bulk of their skeleton. At age 9, the bones start a big growth spurt. And by the time puberty ends, around 14 or 15 years old, the adult-sized skeleton is all but done, about 90 percent complete.

But doctors say a lot of children aren’t getting what they need to do that. Calcium and vitamin D are essential, sure, but so is lots of time jumping and running.

“It’s the magic window of time when bone is built.”
“It’s the magic window of time when bone is built,” says Dr. Laura Tosi, an orthopedic surgeon who directs the pediatric bone health program at Children’s National Health system in Washington, D.C. And when it comes to bones, “bigger is definitely better,” she says. “The wider and thicker the bone, the harder it is to break or tear.”

Just about everybody knows that calcium and vitamin D are essential to build strong bones. But children and teenagers are all too often shunning the foods that would help them get enough calcium and vitamin D to build those bones.

Federal health officials recommend that children between the ages of 9 and 18 get 1,300 milligrams of calcium every day. That translates into four to five glasses of milk or the equivalent. According to Dr. Neville Golden, an adolescent medicine specialist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, most teens are not drinking anywhere near that amount. Continue reading

Being Healthy on Thanksgiving: A Must-Read

While doctors say you should get some Thanksgiving Day exercise, it's a question of timing. (Rene Schwietzke/Flickr)

While doctors say you should get some Thanksgiving Day exercise, it's a question of timing. (Rene Schwietzke/Flickr)

It’s Thanksgiving week and that means extra helpings of stories to keep you healthy, despite the fact that you’re about to eat the biggest meal of the year.

This post is no exception, but don’t click away yet! This one is easy. Midway through a great article from The Wall Street Journal (with everything you want to know about your triglyceride levels after a meal, the so-called “postprandial” period) comes a morsel of easy-to-implement health info.

It’s simple: get some exercise hours before the big meal:

Light exercise like a slow walk, done continuously for 30 minutes or more, appears to reduce the peak in triglycerides that occurs after eating a meal some 12 to 16 hours later, according to research led by Peter Grandjean, director for the Center for Healthy Living at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
Continue reading