Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Fit vs. Fat Debate Goes On

Back in the 1970s, when I was an impressionable youth, I remember watching football games with my dad and laughing hysterically when the Miller Lite beer commercials came on.

By now they are the thing of parody, but at the time I used to love it when the former professional athletes like ex-catcher Bob Uecker or old defensive lineman Bubba Smith would argue the merits of the low-calorie beer.

“Tastes great!” one would yell. “Less filling!” yelled the other. Soon, the entire bar was shouting back and forth and really, the winner was the American consumer, because it had a beer that featured both great taste and was less filling. Or so the ads would have you believe.

I thought of all this, randomly, as I read yet another study that tries to provide the authoritative voice on a matter of importance to Americans. And while it doesn’t have a catchy slogan, it goes something like this: “It’s OK to be a little overweight!” claims one group of researchers. “No it isn’t!” rebuts the other.

Monday’s latest volley studied nearly 40,000 women with an average age of 54 for a dozen years. Nearly a thousand of them developed heart disease.

The study concluded that, when compared with women who were at normal weight and physically active, there was a 54 percent higher risk for developing heart disease for active women who were overweight and 87 percent higher for active women considered obese. But for women who were overweight and inactive, the risk for heart disease was 88 percent higher than active, fit women and even higher for obese, inactive women.

Again, this study is far from conclusive. Another will likely come out next week contradicting this one. Still, there are so many benefits to being active and reducing your weight – including prevention of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, some cancers and more – that it’s a good rule of thumb for your overall health.

Now, if only someone would come up with a quirky catch-phrase, every one would be doing it.

--Scott Samples
Public Information Coordinator

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