'20/20' Busts 10 Body Myths


To figure this out, we turned to Dr. Jim Levine, an obesity researcher at the Mayo Clinic, who's studied the metabolism of lean and heavy people, such as lean Kathy Strickland and a heavier Dawn Campion.

"Dawn's numbers are actually higher because we find continuously is that people with weight problems who have obesity have a higher basal metabolism compared to people who are lean," Levine said.

"Your basal metabolism is the calories you burn to keep your body going, so if your body is bigger of course your basal metabolism is greater," Levine said. "If your body is smaller your basal metabolism is less."

So if a slow metabolism isn't solely to blame, why is it some poeple gain weight and others don't. "People with obesity have a tendency to be seated, a natural tendency to be seated for two-and-a-half hours per day more," Levine said.

It adds up tp 350 calories a day or 30 to 50 pounds a year. Dr. Levine says it isn't about sweating at the gym. It's simple things like walking to your car or playing with your kids Levine believes people can combat obesity by simply moving more. Even standing up at your desk can increase your metabolism by up to 40 percent if you're moving around.

"We're talking about shaking up everything we do because we have no choice in it," Levine said. "Obesity is collapsing corporations in America, but much more importantly, it's devastating our health and it's taking over our children. We have no choice but to do something. We have no choice but to do something big."

Can Heartburn Lead to Cancer?

Obesity is a legitimate epidemic in the United States, and obesity contributes to greater numbers of people suffering from heartburn. Here's the connection: If you are overweight, fat pushes against the stomach, causing acids to rise up to the esophagus, which is not designed to handle stomach acids.

Although, you don't have to be overweight to have heartburn, you should know that heartburn can lead to something worse -- cancer of the esophagus. Most people are unaware that heartburn (also known as GERD or "acid reflux") is similar to over-exposure to the sun in that chronic inflammation can cause the cells of the esophagus to change. Over time people can develop "burn holes" in their esophagus, said Oz. "If you have chronic burning of the esophagus, you develop tissue there called Barrett's esophagus. That's the precursor of cancer," he told "20/20."

And here's a complicating factor in diagnosis serious esophageal problems: over-the-counter medications work so well that people think they've corrected the problem. "Although they neutralize it much of the time, they don't neutralize it completely and sometimes you will have the reflux without the pain," said Roizen. Television ads are very effective but they won't help you diagnose whether your problem is more dangerous. Follow the directions on those heartburn medications which say that if you're not better after two weeks, it's time to see a doctor. And if you need to -- lose the weight.

Men Can Drink More Alcohol Than Women

This is not just a sexist myth. Men are biologically better equipped to drink more than women.

"It's true not just because they're bigger but because they have an extra enzyme in the lining of their stomach and that enzyme, when it sees alcohol, begins to metabolize it immediately," said Oz. "So only about half the alcohol that they actually drink gets into the bloodstream."

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