Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Amazing new diet! Man eats fewer calories than he burns and loses weight!

It's been all over the news.

Dr. Mark Haub, a professor of nutrition at Kansas State University spent the last two months eating pretty much nothing but junk food and lost 27lbs and improved his cholesterol profile.

How did he do it?

He ate fewer calories than he burned.

Is it important?

Yes, but not perhaps in the way you might think.

It's not important as a pure news story. There's simply no surprise that a nutrition professor eating a calorie reduced diet lost weight. If that were news we'd also regularly be seeing stories about the amazing business professor who saved more money than he spent and saw his bank account climb. There's also not too much surprise that his cholesterol improved in that the benefits of losing 13.5% of your body weight likely outweigh any risks inherent to the diet that led to that loss.

No, what's truly important here is the fact that this story made headlines the world over. That's important because it hammers home one incredibly unfortunate fact - the world doesn't understand calories.

Calories are the currency of weight and we need to empower people to use and understand them. From posted calories on menu boards and school cafeterias, to incorporating them into elementary school curricula, to including them on medical licensing examinations, to ensuring that even physical activity guidelines clearly spell them out. Calories, and more importantly a thorough understanding of how many each of us needs and how many we're having, must become part of our nutritional consciousness if we ever hope to put a dent in obesity.

So thanks to Dr. Haub for proving what shouldn't have needed proving, because truly, the fact that the world was wowed by a guy losing weight eating fewer calories than he burns highlights just how far we've got left to go in educating the public.

A shame that doesn't appear to be the message that he's chosen to promote.