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Professor's Weight Loss Secret: Junk Food

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Professor's Weight Loss Secret: Junk Food

Fitness & Nutrition

Professor's Weight Loss Secret: Junk Food

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Little Debbie Snacks, Oreos, Doritos, Diet Mountain Dew - sure doesn't sound like diet food. But a nutrition professor at Kansas State University ate only convenience store snacks for two months and he lost 27 pounds. The key: moderation.

Mark Haub kept his food intake below 1,800 calories a day - no extra exercise required. Professor Haub joins us from his office at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.

Thanks very much for being with us.

Professor MARK HAUB (Kansas State University): Truly my pleasure.

SIMON: Give us some idea of what you ate in a typical - so-called typical day.

Prof. HAUB: Sure, yeah. So for - in essence I would have about four convenience store, vending machine items a day, with milk and a protein shake, and a moderate amount - moderate meaning one or two servings of vegetables a day. I didn't change physical activity, although that was a part of my lifestyle, but it was less than 60 to 90 minutes per week.

SIMON: So I mean let me get this straight. You didn't eat any of the things that are supposed to be really good for us, like fresh vegetables and whole grains.

Prof. HAUB: I avoided whole grains. I avoided fruits. I did eat some - you know, raw carrots and celery at dinner. I did eat some, but I tried to pick the foods that most people would consider as unhealthy.

SIMON: And you lost weight.

Prof. HAUB: Right.

SIMON: But how's your - for example, how's your cholesterol?

Prof. HAUB: Cholesterol started out at 214 and decreased to, I believe, 184. So it dropped about 20 percent.

SIMON: Was this a diet or an experiment?

Prof. HAUB: It was an experiment. Seems to be a disconnect. You have certain people like Dr. Glenn Gaesser, Paul Campos and a few others who - you know, Paul Campos wrote the book "The Obesity Myth," and Glenn Gaesser wrote the book "Big Fat Lies," who make statements about, you know, we're really making a mountain out of a molehill with this whole obesity thing.

Whereas you have, on the flipside, you have a bunch of public health and health providers trying to push weight loss and to decrease obesity. And so, you know, I kind of took the stance of okay, well, let's say we reduce obesity, reduce body weight. Move somebody - me - from overweight to a healthy weight, but we do that with foods that aren't recommended. Is that healthy? That's kind of the exercise that I try to go over in class.

And, you know, if healthy, what are some of the risks and complications? I only looked at cholesterol. Are there other parameters that might be important to look at that may not show up?

SIMON: So Professor, may I ask. If you were on a deserted island - Twinkies or Ding-Dongs?

Prof. HAUB: Oh my. Wow. Could I have half of each?

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: I'll have to consult our judges.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: You academics are always looking to change the...

Prof. HAUB: Hey, we always want our cake and we want to eat it too. Right?

SIMON: Well, Professor, thanks so much.

Prof. HAUB: My pleasure. Thanks for having me on.

SIMON: Mark Haub, professor of human nutrition at Kansas State.

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