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Bernhard Schlink

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Fat Tuesday 

The Holiday SeasonTM is finally ending, and losing weight seems to be, as usual, everyone's New Year's Resolution. The thing is, people tend to go about it the wrong way, either by falling for fad diets or setting unreasonable goals, and usually both. Today, the Post's usually pointless Lean Plate Club offers a pretty good round-up of real weight-loss strategies: start slow, keep with it despite discouragement, and start now - not tomorrow.

People who are really obese are known to be at increased risk for all sorts of nasty health problems, but the definitions of 'obese' have long been unclear. Body Mass Index is the most common standard, but it is severely lacking in real-world relevance. A new study in the Lancet suggests that waist to hip ratio may be a better measurement to predict risks for weight-related diseases. Interesting, but as with BMI, I suspect that it's too simple. Everyone is built differently, and a trend (even a statistically significant one) seen over the population may not have any practical relevance on an individual basis. But, emphasizing something grounded in physical measurement, rather than BMI which doesn't generally account for things like muscle mass, bone density, etc., is a good start.

For those who really do need to lose weight - and I mean serious poundage, not just the post-holiday eggnogg belly - surgery is becoming an increasingly popular option. The US government is starting a major trial to evaluate three types of obesity surgery - gastric bypass, stomach banding, and cutting out bits of stomach - to see what works best.
We'll see what happens.

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