Monday, December 04, 2006

The Skinny on Obesity

The Independent (UK) reported today that British government officials are ready to fight the "obesity epidemic" there.

Dance classes are to be provided by the National Health Service in a drive to tackle plummeting fitness levels and a national obesity crisis.

In a campaign to be launched by ministers this week, GPs will hand out questionnaires to determine how much daily exercise their patients take. People who reveal a sedentary lifestyle could be prescribed a range of activities funded by NHS trusts, including street-dancing, tango classes and trampolining.

Ooh! Tango. I love to dance.

But this goes against the hate-America folks, who I've heard (read, actually) blaming the US for being the only place with such wide-spread obesity. Not at all like Europe. Nope. No sir, Europe is svelte, because they're not pigs like American boors are. And we should be more like Europe. Because Europe is thin and beautiful and peaceful and ever so much more concerned with Important Things than we are.

Not so, it seems:

Figures show that more than 14 million people in the UK will be dangerously overweight by 2010, many of whom have an aversion to organised sport. The cost of inactivity is reckoned to be £8bn a year, including bills for tackling illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, depression and lost working days. The Government wants children - already among the most obese in the world - to take part in an at least an hour of moderate activity each day, while adults should aim to do half an hour of light exercise, such as brisk walking, five days a week.

But there's a downside to all this exercise and obesity-fighting. The Independent also reported today that thin women have a greater risk of miscarriage than plumper women do.

Skinny women who get pregnant are at a far greater risk of miscarriage than those of normal weight, a study has found. But they may be able to reduce the risk significantly by eating the right food or taking vitamins, say researchers.

Scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine questioned 603 British women aged 18 to 55 who had miscarried within three months of getting pregnant.

Pregnant at fifty-five???

[U]nderweight women had a 72 per cent higher risk of miscarrying in the first trimester. On the other hand, women who took vitamin supplements during early pregnancy reduced the risk by around 50 per cent.

So should women try to get thin, or should they stay fat? The British National Health Service may be encouraging miscarriages with their dance scheme. Such a shame.

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