Health Tips: Are you fueling your own obesity epidemic?


James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano) had a fatal heart attack after eating a meal that included fried king prawns and a plate of foie gras. The 275-pound actor opted for an artery-clogging feast and paid the ultimate price. That same year, 2013, 801,000 fellow Americans also died from heart and cardiovascular disease.

A study published in PLOS One reveals that high-income countries have the highest levels of adult obesity (22.72%) -- and in North America, it’s hit 30.46%. Seems as a country’s GDP increases, so do waistlines (we do not expect the current economic crisis to change that). On average, Americans gained 1.25 pounds a year from 1990 to 2015. That’s a whopping 31.25 pounds -- enough to tip the scales from a normal weight to heart-threatening obesity.

So here are two suggestions to help you become aware of and reshape your diet.

-- Keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat or drink. A 2008 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that keeping a daily food diary doubles weight loss. 

-- Plan your menus; evaluate their balance of veggies, fruits, whole grains and protein. Aim for two to three servings of veggies per meal; whole grains twice a day; keep animal protein (no red or processed meat) to a 3-6 ounce serving once a day.

-- Eat only when the sun is up and more before 2 p.m. than after 2 p.m. People who did that lost 25% more weight than those who ate the same amount of calories, but later in the day. 

Poor sleep habits can lead to heart disease

In 1964, 17-year-old Randy Gardner went 11 days without sleeping. That’s the outer edge of what a person can endure without inflicting lasting damage. In contrast, it turns out you assuredly inflict lasting harm if you repeatedly have lousy sleep patterns -- can’t fall asleep, wake up and can’t get back to sleep easily, wake up too early or have sleep apnea. 

A study published in PLOS Biology shows that disrupted sleep patterns trigger bodywide inflammation that leads to overt cardiovascular disease. Researchers measured what was going on in the bloodstream of 1,500 folks, and found those with disrupted sleep had higher counts of white blood cells that drive inflammatory pathways. Erratic sleepers also have higher levels of coronary artery calcium, which contributes to clogged blood vessels. Those plaque-congested vessels are vulnerable to increased inflammation, which can cause plaque rupture, leading to a heart attack or stroke.

So if you have trouble falling and/or staying asleep, get help from knowledgeable sleep specialists, like those at the Cleveland Clinic’s or Columbia University’s sleep disorders centers. The most effective treatments for disrupted sleep include:

-- Using cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia and using restriction therapy and stimulus control therapy to improve sleep quality and quantity.

-- Making sure to get 30+ minutes of aerobic exercise daily.

-- Establishing a good sleep routine: Hit the hay at the same time nightly; make sure the bedroom is cool, dark and quiet; detach from digital devices an hour before bed.

You’ll be protecting your heart while you improve your mood, cognition and relationships.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit


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