The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 8, 2013

Ration the rations

Vow to trim down, exercise this year

— Did you resolve last week to diet or increase exercising, or both?

If you did, you’re not alone. But you already knew that, right?

Three-quarters of Americans consider obesity a serious health problem for the nation. Just look around. Or, for that matter, look in a mirror or step on a scale.

Few issues have been studied more than those concerning weight gain. No wonder.

Obesity is now reaching pandemic proportions across much of the world. Adult obesity is more common globally than under-nutrition, according to the International Association for the Study of Obesity. About 475 million people are obese adults, with more than twice that number overweight. That means about 1.5 billion adults are too fat.

More than 200 million school-age children are overweight, too, making this generation the first predicted to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

In the United States, about two-thirds of people are too heavy; a third are obese, which is roughly 35 or more pounds over a normal weight.

Obesity has been tied to numerous medical problems and diseases, among them diabetes, breast and other cancers, premature death, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, gall-bladder disease, arthritis, osteoarthritis, infertility and sleep apnea. Even sedentary behavior, depression and other psychological problems. You name it, it’s on the list as having an effect.

For those vowing to bite the bullet, push away from the table and lose unwanted pounds, don’t be too ecstatic over a recent government weight analysis concluding that pleasantly plump people may live longer.

According to the federal analysis, people who are overweight by up to 30 or so pounds have a slightly lower risk of early death than those at a normal weight.

The bad news is that the review of 97 studies showed that people who are extremely obese – roughly 60 or more pounds over a normal weight – have a greater risk of dying earlier than those who are at a normal weight.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has this advice for those of us on a mission to lose weight in 2013: “It may be tempting to focus on losing weight fast, leading many to turn to dangerous fad diets and crash diets,” said registered dietitian and academy spokesperson Angela Ginn. “However, research shows that slow, healthy weight loss is more likely to last than dramatic weight changes.”

How many times have we experienced that?

Eating less, staying away from sugary, fatty foods and exercising are the keys.

While heredity and glandular and other medical problems factor into being overweight, we all need to be concerned with carrying around extra pounds.

And don’t look for someone else to rescue you. Another of the junk-food studies announced last week found most respondents didn’t want the government limiting junk food and taxing additionally unhealthy foods.

We agree.

We also agreed with respondents who put some of the blame on too much time watching TV and playing video games and eating cheap fast foods.

The bottom line is that trimming down is an individual choice and an individual chore.

We urge our readers to vow to make 2013 their healthiest year yet.

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