Note to the Reader: I wrote this for my family but felt it was worth sharing with you.

First … HAPPY BIRTHDAY ETHAN!!! (Lil’ guy turns the big -0-5 tomorrow … as opposed to one of our newest female family members who will turn the big five “O”  later this year )  I’m not able to attend Ethan’s party but it promises to be the traditional big bash that Mom does so nicely for the kids every year.  We’re gonna have a second b-day party in August when Wendy, Isaac & the kids are here.

OK … now on to the meat (no pun intended) of what I wanted to share with you. 

Put down those potatoes—unless you want to pack on the pounds!!

Slavenska and I are trying to pay attention to diet and exercise.  I’ve done a fair amount of reading and actually took some nutrition classes.  As it turns out, in Panama, compared to the U.S., a lot less attention is paid to nutrition labels and healthy eating.  So Slavenska and I spend a lot of time talking about carbs (sugars) simple and complex, fats, proteins, insulin, and on and on.  I won’t bore you with this but the information below is so different than what we’ve been taught, it’s worth sharing.

Yesterday I heard a radio segment on a recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, and then did a little more research.  The study concludes that it DOES matter just as much what types of foods our calories derive from as it does how many calories we eat.  Put another way, a serving of 100 calories from potatoes (even boiled potatoes) is not nearly as healthy as 100 calories from low-fat yogurt.  It’s thought that a lot of the effect comes from the glycemic load on your system (how quickly the carbohydrates (sugars) from the foods enter the blood stream and require insulin to metabolize them.  Too much, too fast causes an insulin spike which has all sorts of negative consequences over the short and long term.)  As it happens, potatoes, white breads, soft drinks w/ sugars release quickly into the blood and cause that spike to occur.  So Dad was right when he said, “All things in moderation.”  (I’m not sure he was talking about glycemic load though!)

The Bottom Line

I care about you // us and I want us around for a while.  Eating plays a large part in health over the long term.  The subjects in the study were observed for diet, exercise and other behaviors over a 20 year period.  Over each 4 year period of observation, certain foods were found to contribute to weight gain or weight loss in a larger proportion than simply the food’s measure of calories.

Things that may help you LOSE weight

Do eat: vegetables (-0.22 lb), whole grains (-0.37 lb), fruits (-0.49 lb), nuts (-0.57 lb), and yogurt (-0.82 lb)

Do exercise: physical activity (-1.76 lb across quintiles)

Do rest: sleep (more weight gain with less than 6 or more than 8 hours of sleep)


Things that probably cause you to GAIN weight

Consume less : potato chips (1.69 lb), potatoes (1.28 lb), sugar-sweetened beverages (1.00 lb), unprocessed red meats (0.95 lb), and processed meats (0.93 lb), alcohol use (0.41 lb per drink per day), television watching (0.31 lb per hour per day)

CLICK HERE:  To Download this radio segment

CLICK HERE:  To read the article from the Pat Morrison Page

And below is an Abstract of the paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Mozaffarian and colleagues

Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men.

Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB.


Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.





Specific dietary and other lifestyle behaviors may affect the success of the straightforward-sounding strategy “eat less and exercise more” for preventing long-term weight gain.



We performed prospective investigations involving three separate cohorts that included 120,877 U.S. women and men who were free of chronic diseases and not obese at baseline, with follow-up periods from 1986 to 2006, 1991 to 2003, and 1986 to 2006. The relationships between changes in lifestyle factors and weight change were evaluated at 4-year intervals, with multivariable adjustments made for age, baseline body-mass index for each period, and all lifestyle factors simultaneously. Cohort-specific and sex-specific results were similar and were pooled with the use of an inverse-variance-weighted meta-analysis.



Within each 4-year period, participants gained an average of 3.35 lb (5th to 95th percentile, -4.1 to 12.4). On the basis of increased daily servings of individual dietary components, 4-year weight change was most strongly associated with the intake of potato chips (1.69 lb), potatoes (1.28 lb), sugar-sweetened beverages (1.00 lb), unprocessed red meats (0.95 lb), and processed meats (0.93 lb) and was inversely associated with the intake of vegetables (-0.22 lb), whole grains (-0.37 lb), fruits (-0.49 lb), nuts (-0.57 lb), and yogurt (-0.82 lb) (P≤0.005 for each comparison). Aggregate dietary changes were associated with substantial differences in weight change (3.93 lb across quintiles of dietary change). Other lifestyle factors were also independently associated with weight change (P<0.001), including physical activity (-1.76 lb across quintiles); alcohol use (0.41 lb per drink per day), smoking (new quitters, 5.17 lb; former smokers, 0.14 lb), sleep (more weight gain with <6 or >8 hours of sleep), and television watching (0.31 lb per hour per day).



Specific dietary and lifestyle factors are independently associated with long-term weight gain, with a substantial aggregate effect and implications for strategies to prevent obesity. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.)

Mike Stockwell writes this blog for his clients, friends and frankly, for his own entertainment.  Mike is the Founder of The Pacific Group – Business Advisory Services and works with owners and executives small and mid-size businesses in California and Hawaii, helping them to take their business to the next level. 

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