By Chris Adams

Gregory Poland of Mayo Clinic has some very simple guidance – appropriately called “Dr. Poland’s Rules.” And they seek to mitigate the obesity crisis in the U.S. by zeroing in on the individual level.

Poland, an infectious diseases specialist and director of Mayo’s Vaccine Research Group, spelled them out in a session with National Press Foundation fellows:

  • Only eat on the days you exercise.
  • Grocery shop from the periphery of the store.
  • Eat out less.
  • Eat less food – and have most of what you eat plants.
  • Forget the junk food.

Simple steps, but in Poland’s clinical practice he spends a lot of time with patients discussing diet. As a result, he has very few overweight patients, he said.

Poland’s expertise lies in the interaction of infectious diseases and obesity, and he is both alarmed at the dramatic transformation of American’s diet and exercise habits and worried about the potential for increases in infectious diseases because of it.

Obese people, he said, generally respond less well to vaccines, making them more susceptible to some diseases.

Beyond that, Poland said the U.S. military is confronted with serious recruitment issues as the pool of potential soldiers and sailors overeats its way out of eligibility. Nearly a quarter of potential young recruits are too overweight to serve, said Poland, citing the pivotal “Too Fat to Fight” reports. Poland has served on the Defense Health Board, which advises the secretary of defense.