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Tell Me the Truth, Doctor

Tell Me the Truth, Doctor

Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News' Chief Medical Editor, makes it easier than ever to understand your health.

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According to Richard Besser, M.D., health is simple. It grows or fails over time based on the decisions you make and lifestyle you have. Besser’s new book, Tell Me the Truth, Doctor, aims to provide you with what you need to live a long, happy and healthy life.

In Tell Me the Truth, Doctor, Besser answers the most confusing and critical health questions facing Americans today. He organized his answers into six lifestyle categories, including diet and nutrition, fitness and medications, vitamins and supplements. The book also addresses Americans’ concerns when going to and leaving the doctor’s office, such as illness, testing and treatment.

Besser’s overall approach to health and wellness can be summed up in three principles – none of which include popping pills or taking a daily multivitamin.

  • Eat Less: Portion size and overeating are two leading causes of the American obesity epidemic. Besser explains that the amount of calories you need is determined by your size and your activity level. It is not determined by boredom, by stress, or by food availability, such as in social settings.

  • Eat Differently: The types of food, in addition to the amount of food, you eat also play into overall health. Instead of drinking soda, drink water. Instead of eating fries with your sandwich, eat a side salad. Fill your pantry and fridge with real food instead of processed, sugary and salt-laden options.

  • Move More: Besser’s advice is to start small. Go for a walk, take the stairs or attend social gatherings that involve moving instead of sitting, such as going to the mall. Small steps lead to bigger steps, including going to the gym, getting a trainer and jogging instead of walking.

Besser is ABC News’ Chief Health and Medical Editor. He provides medical analysis and commentary for ABC News broadcasts, including Good Morning America. Before ABC News, Besser served as the acting director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He was responsible for public health emergency preparedness and emergency response activities at the CDC.

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  • The author is a medical professional who lives the life he wants his patients and readers to live
  • The author answers the most common diet, exercise and medical questions
  • Questions are answered from a straightforward, medical approach
  • Questions are answered completely with a summary at the end of each with advice for implementation
  • Topics are organized into six lifestyle categories so the book can be navigated easily
  • Promotes a healthy, balanced approach to eating and fitness
  • The book does not include a diet and exercise regimen to follow, if that's what you're looking
  • Types of food to eat and recipes to prepare the food are not included
  • Types of exercises to do and workout routines are not included
  • Questions answered in the book might not be the most pressing health questions for some readers

From diets to juice fasts, Besser answers the most common questions about diet, food and supplements with a straightforward medical approach.

The first question asks whether dieting is the best way to lose weight. According to Besser, dieting does not work. Diets restrict calories or entire food groups and cause rapid weight loss for only a short time – pounds that are later packed back on because diets cannot be maintained for long periods. Instead, Besser advises his readers to make one small dietary change at a time, such as drinking skim milk instead of the full fat, which will lead to long-term, sustainable eating practices.

Besser addresses a variety of diet and nutrition topics, such as how often to eat, whether salt causes high blood pressure, whether sugar causes diabetes, and if skipping breakfast is good for weight loss.

Besser also discusses how multivitamins and supplements affect weight loss and health, and his approach to pill-popping is that one dose does not fit all. Vitamins and minerals are important parts of the diet, and the body needs those micronutrients to survive. However, instead of popping vitamin C to fend off a cold, eat vitamin C in a nutrient-rich diet filled with the dark, leafy greens packed with the vitamins and minerals the body needs. The doctor himself claims to have never taken a multivitamin.

His overall approach to diet and nutrition can be summed up in the two previously mentioned practices: eat less and eat differently. Do not diet. Do not supplement. Change one thing at a time. Eat real food.

In Tell Me the Truth, Doctor, you'll see that weight loss and long-term health cannot be accomplished by dieting, but they can be accomplished by changing the way you eat.


According to Dr. Besser, participating in physical activity is one of the most important things you can do to lose weight and to maintain a healthy weight. Medically, when a doctor talks about fitness, he or she is referring to how well the heart meets the needs of the body. Exercise is used to increase that physical fitness, which will lower your risk factors for developing a number of disorders, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

However, to accomplish physical fitness, you do not have to run a marathon or hit the local Cross Fit gym five times a week. In one of his examples, Besser described the high intensity of a spinning class as being too intense for him. He preferred the intensity of the stationary bike, which he could control. He expressed concern for people who exercise with the mindset of “no pain, no gain.” According to the doctor, exercise does not have to feel like torture.

The doctor also addresses topics, such as whether you should drink sports drinks when exercising, how much physical activity is needed daily, and when the best time of day is to exercise.

Besser’s approach to exercise and attaining physical fitness is to get up and do something. Just move.


Dr. Richard Besser believes that attaining health and wellness is simple. The questions he answers in Tell Me the Truth, Doctor are meant to provide advice to readers who do not know where to start or to those who are tired of not knowing what they can believe when it comes to the latest fad diet or exercise trend. At the end of his book, Besser outlines his top 10 pieces of advice, including “own your health.” You'll be able to be a better advocate for yourself after you finish this book.

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