I really can’t remember where I was recently, but wherever it was there were plenty of normal, average people all over the place. Now that I think about it, I guess it was a store or a mall, because people were walking around rather than sitting. Maybe it was the airport. Anyway, I decided to do a random check to see if the statistics which now tell us over 60% of the American public are overweight or obese were accurate. So I started counting at random. One, two (yes), three, four (yes), five (yes), six… Out of every group of ten people, at least 6 were large, and a few, very large. Sure enough, and sadly, the statistics are right. And I think the percentage may even be a little low.

It really doesn’t matter too much how we got to where we are, now does it? We’re here. We can blame the fast food joints, or the soda industry, or the processed food companies, or the massive number of jobs that have us sitting all day at desks working on computers. Maybe it’s a result of the huge burden of stress we live under (stress activates cortisol, a hormone that puts us in the “fight or flight” mode and shuts down our digestion and other normal bodily functions). Whatever it is, we’re here. This problem isn’t going to fix itself or go away. It’s time to do something about it.

Almost daily I scour publications and articles looking for ideas and tidbits I can incorporate into my own life, as well as pass along to you. A few days ago I came across a very interesting article by Sarah Knapton in the U.K publication The Telegraph entitled “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper to stay healthy, say scientists.” I’m passing it along to you because I think it makes great sense, and it could very well be a nail in the coffin of obesity that at least 60% of us may be looking for. Here you go:

The old adage ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper’ could be the best way to lose weight and stay healthy, Kings College scientists say.

A major review of 28 recent studies has concluded that keeping calories down late at night is the secret to combating obesity.

Researchers warn that modern lifestyles have led to many people dining later in the day, or at irregular intervals, which is confusing the body’s circadian rhythms and hindering digestion.

Most people in the UK increases their energy intake across the day, with breakfast providing the fewest calories and dinner the most.

But recent trials have shown that people who eat the most in the morning experience greater weight loss and improve blood sugar levels even when consuming the same amount of calories overall.

Many metabolic processes such as appetite, digestion and the metabolism of fat, cholesterol and glucose follow a circadian pattern.

However most national dietary guidelines focus on ‘what’ people should eat in terms of food and nutrients, with only a few also providing recommendations on ‘when’ to eat over the course of a day.

Dr Gerda Pot, Visiting Lecturer in the Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences Division at King’s College London says: “There seems to be some truth in the saying ‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper’, however, this warrants further investigation.”

“Whilst we have a much better understanding today of what we should be eating, we are still left with the question as to which meal should provide us with the most energy.”

“Although the evidence suggests that eating more calories later in the evening is associated with obesity, we are still far from understanding whether our energy intake should be distributed equally across the day or whether breakfast should contribute the greatest proportion of energy, followed by lunch and dinner.”

The scientists also claim that people should also consider ‘with whom we eat’, as well as what we eat and when. Regular family meals contribute to healthy eating habits in children and adolescents, they conclude on current evidence.

(The review was published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.)

Recently while standing in line at Pickleball waiting for a court to open up, I mentioned to a lady friend of mine that I thought she had lost some weight. Smiling, she said, “Yes and I’m a little worried about it.” (Most people are ecstatic at losing a little weight). So I asked her what was she was doing, eating differently? “Not really, except I just have crackers and beer for dinner.” Oh, yea, that’s probably helping, I though with a raised eyebrow and a slight smile.

I recall many years ago my mother-in-law, at a height of around 5’1, weighed over 200 lbs. After trying many diets over a number of years with no success, one day she taped a picture of a large rhinoceros on the front of her refrigerator and wrote the words “Wanna look in?” below the animal. In addition, she also made a commitment to eat nothing after 6:00 pm. In less than a year, she dropped to below 120 lbs and has stayed there ever since. Her success seems to support the idea of seriously cutting down our calorie intake in the evening hours of the day.

I’m not sure anyone has a concrete answer for this epidemic. Certainly the fad-diet creators are cashing in. But I can tell you this for certain: a picture of a rhinoceros on the front of your refrigerator with the words “Wanna look in?” is a lot less expensive than medication, surgery, and an unhealthy lifestyle. You’re welcome to use my scotch tape if you need it.

To your health and mine,

Dr. Hank