Health & Medicine

Drs. Oz and Roizen: Are you a captive black rhino?

You might already know that the black rhinoceros is being illegally hunted to near extinction. (A single horn can sell for over $250,000 on the black market.) What you might not know is that in trying to preserve the species, many zoos around the world are attempting to breed them — but it’s not working. Rhinos don’t thrive with reduced exercise and the diet they get from zoo life.

A recent study by Ohio State University noted that over a 70-year period, rhinos born in captivity (they’d never seen the Serengeti) developed inflammation and insulin resistance, precursors to diabetes and heart disease, and 73 percent of them died before they could reproduce.

Modern humans who live in confined spaces (the average American spends 89 percent of his or her time indoors) and eat an unnatural diet (most folks eat fast food three times a week, each meal delivering 1,200 calories — or over 190,000 calories annually) are falling victim to those same conditions. And fertility is declining rapidly too. The number of U.S. births per 1,000 women ages 15-44 fell to 62.5 in 2013, the lowest level ever recorded.

You don’t want to be a captive black rhino! Chances are, you haven’t broken out of the cage of unhealthy habits that are putting you at risk. To stop being victimized by unhealthy habits, make sure you exercise regularly (get 10,000 steps a day); eat fresh, non-processed foods; and get outdoors where your body and spirit can thrive. Now, if we can figure out how to help the black rhino, too!

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit