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Dr. Rick's Health Tip of the Month

November 1999

Your genes versus your jeans
Are you destined to be fat?

By Rick Allen, DC

The media recently have played up the idea that some individuals are genetically predisposed to becoming overweight. That is, these people may be destined to be fat. Is it heredity or lifestyle that has made us the fattest folks on earth? Two recent studies aimed a spotlight on the answer.

As reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, investigators compared lifestyles, weight, and body fat of 485 pairs of identical or fraternal, healthy, middle-aged, female twins. Not surprisingly, they discovered that women who exercised most frequently are less fat. In fact, regular physical exercise was the strongest predictor of total body fat. Furthermore, "regular exercise is the best method of maintaining healthy weight -- even in individuals predisposed to higher levels of body fat."

In another study, Louisiana State University researchers took a close look at the vegetables today's kids eat. The top two: potato chips and French fries. These two high-fat, low nutrition foods comprised 27 to 40% of the vegetables consumed by teenagers from 1994 to 1996. In a statement released by the University, Dr. Catherine Champagne noted, "French fries and potato chips are no match for a serving of carrots, broccoli, or even a plain backed potato. Instead of receiving a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, and fiber in a package that delivers little fat and relatively few calories, children are getting a high-fat, high-calorie food with little nutritional value."

Is the answer clear? Eat smart and get regular exercise! A simple formula for great health that is especially important with the approaching holiday season. Enjoy it in good health!

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