The Superbowl is a time many of us eat too much while we sit around in front of the TV. Are you a couch potato? The causes of the obesity epidemic are still a mystery, but scientists who are studying sedentary people (like you?) have created a "couch potato mouse," which do not have the energy to exercise.

Researcher Daniel Kelly says, "Part of our interest in understanding the factors that allow muscles to exercise is the knowledge that whatever this machinery is, it becomes inactive in obesity, aging, diabetes and other chronic conditions that affect mobility." This is what happens when muscle tissue lacks PGC-1, a protein coactivator that muscles need to convert fuel into energy. Whoops, better get off that couch! Normally, physical stimulation boosts PGC-1 activity in muscle cells, which switches on genes that increase fuel storage, ultimately leading to "trained" muscle (the physical condition most people hope to attain through exercise). In obese couch potatoes, PGC-1 levels drop, further reducing a person’s ability to exercise, creating a vicious cycle. In this study, mice without muscle PGC-1 looked normal and walked around without difficulty, but could not run on a treadmill.

Sociologists warn that television has become a staple in the modern American diet. This doesn’t make sense until we realize that the dinner table increasingly has been replaced with the flat screen in the living room. Researcher David Burley says that this isn’t only true for families eating a home off of trays: "The trend is especially evident when eating out at restaurants. More and more, it’s rare to walk into a sit-down restaurant and not see a television in some corner playing ESPN, CNN or some other televised program. Burley says, "We lose a lot when we are busy staring at the television, and one of those things is an appreciation for the food we are eating. We tend to eat more slowly and less when we dine and interact with others as opposed to eating alone, which we are very likely to do while watching television. Our bodies digest food and extract nutrients more when we eat slowly. It’s simply healthier to eat with others without watching a screen."

Thank goodness Anne Strieber’s famous diet book "What I Learned from the Fat Years" is now–just in time for Superbowl snacking–available as a download! Using scientific principles, she devised a diet that helped her to lose 100 pounds and YOU CAN TOO, and it contains a special chapter on exercise called (ironically) "The Tyranny of the Body."

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