The Uphill Skater: Living a Healthy Lifestyle
By Judith Lawrenson
Last month I said we would talk about some of the statistics one reads in magazines and sees in the paper. In fact, it seems these days that those sorts of numbers are bombarding us at every turn. Their goal seems to be to get us poor little people to change our minds. I have read unemployment statistics ranging from 5.7 percent up to 12 percent. Both of those cannot be correct, can they?
Of more concern to us than politically manipulated numbers are the so-called “Lifestyle” surveys—numbers that tell us things like statistics say that 30 percent of Americans are obese. OK, so you say, I guess I see a lot of fat people so it must be true. Well, in fact there are many Americans who are overweight and obese, but when you read the 30 percent statistic, know that it is based on studies of Body Mass Index (BMI) ratings taken from a variety of sources, one of which is hospital patients. First of all, the BMI has been called into question because it has no regard for age, gender, body type or condition of general health. Secondly, using hospital patients as part of a survey, unless their condition is specified as not part of the criteria, can skew figures horribly.
Another statistic that I have seen in several places regards the findings of sleep having to do with obesity? I don’t know how, when or where all of that came from, but I just read in First Magazine (January issue) that there is a 62 percent drop in food cravings when people sleep an additional 1.6 hours. Of course, you, like me, may be wondering: Who are these people? How many of them? How long was the study? How do they measure the degrees of craving? What were they craving? Were they all well, and on and on? See what I mean?
I don’t mean to pick on one weight-loss supplement, but I recently read in a drugstore ad that Slimquick will give you three times the weight loss. In fact, it has a big “3X” on the label. It quantifies its own label with small print that I could not read without my big glasses. One of the requirements to lose big pounds is that you maintain a 1,350-calorie daily diet. We could all lose a ton of weight if we ate 1,350 calories a day, ladies. I’m just saying! Also, the Food and Drug Administration says you should not eat less that 1,500 calories per day and I don’t know where that came from either.
Want another example? A University of Kansas research study claims that regularly eating yogurt can speed a recovery from viral infection by a whopping 74 percent. This may be true, as I guess other surveys have “proven” that “lactobacillus acidophilus boosts antibody production and hinders invading microbe’s ability to produce symptom triggering proteins.” I guess you all understand that, right? By the way, they do not say how much yogurt you have to eat.
There was a study done a while back that said aspartame caused tumors in mice, and, of course the whole artificial sweetner industry went crazy. Well, they should have, too. When you read the fine print of the results of the induced/created tumors in the mice, it turned out that a person of average height and weight would have to consume the equivalent of 400 packets of artificial sweeteners a day to create the same results. All I am saying is to read the fine print. I always say one should read the label and I mean that not just as a suggestion, but also as a life metaphor.
I know it looks like I’m on my soapbox again, and I guess, to be honest, I am. I truly think there are those in the food industry who are out to fool us. Oh, why would anyone set out to trick people? Surely money is not a motivation. Had you ever heard of kale a year ago? Did you know that salmon can now be as expensive as filet mignon? And, it must be wild and caught in Alaska, when the water is really cold, and not be dyed pink. I am not saying that salmon and kale are not good for you, but Honey, so are green beans, and if you are on a budget, they are a whole lot cheaper!
I will quote one final statistic and this is often cited and yes, it is a real result of a real clinical study involving over 50,000 people over a five-year period. If you eat two fruits a day, every day, you can reduce your risk of heart attack by 42 percent. Now that is a result you can take to the bank—simple, cheap and easy.