Healthy Weight Week, Jan. 21 - 27, Celebrates Sound Lifestyle Habits

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Are you sick of advertising that portrays American women as excessively thin, hollow-eyed, and self-absorbed? If so, you may be happy to know that during Healthy Weight Week, Jan. 21-27, health providers across the country emphasize the value of maintaining one's own natural weight, rather than losing weight. The year 2006 was not reassuring. It was a year in which fashion industry moguls admitted that a size zero is no longer thin enough for them: they demand models in size double zero, negative zero, and even negative two. "This hysteria over weight is causing tragic problems for children and for people of all sizes. Instead, we want to help them move ahead to improving their health in positive ways," says Francie M. Berg, a licensed nutritionist and adjunct professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, whose organization Healthy Weight Network started Healthy Weight Week 14 years ago.

Are you sick of advertising that portrays American women as excessively thin, hollow-eyed, and self-absorbed?

If so, you may be happy to know that during Healthy Weight Week, Jan. 21-27, health providers across the country emphasize the value of maintaining one's own natural weight, rather than losing weight.

The year 2006 was not reassuring. It was a year in which fashion industry moguls admitted that a size zero is no longer thin enough for them: they demand models in size double zero, negative zero, and even negative two. The death in Brazil last November of model Ana Carolina Reston, who reportedly carried just 88 pounds on her 5-foot-8 frame, and three other self-starvation deaths in quick succession within a few weeks in that country, caused an uproar, but little effective change. While the city council in Madrid, Spain, did start a small rebellion, banning models with a body mass index under 18 from the Madrid Fashion Week runways, a move that reportedly would bar up to 40 percent, model agencies deny their models are too thin. They reject regulation of any kind. "We just wouldn't use someone who was really underweight or too thin," says Sarah Doukas, Kate Moss's agent.

Dieters weak from hunger can be found anywhere. In New York, subway authorities recently announced that fainting dieters are among the top causes of train delays. Between Oct. 2005 and Oct. 2006, sick passengers caused about 400 delays each month or some 12 to 14 delays every day. Most of these were dieters who faint from dizziness, said Asim Nelson, transit emergency medical technician.

However the media continue to emphasize the risks of obesity and downplay any risks of underweight, in spite of national studies that dispute this logic. Research at the National Center for Health Statistics, CDC, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Apr. 2005), reveals that the risks of obesity have been much overstated, and that in fact fewer deaths are associated with overweight than with underweight or with so-called normal or "healthy" weight.

"This hysteria over weight is causing tragic problems for children and for people of all sizes. Instead, we want to help them move ahead to improving their health in positive ways," says Francie M. Berg, a licensed nutritionist and adjunct professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, whose organization Healthy Weight Network started Healthy Weight Week 14 years ago. (http://www.healthyweight.net)

Berg contends that whether a person enjoys good health or not is more a matter of lifestyle than weight. During Healthy Weight Week people are encouraged to improve health habits in lasting ways: to live actively, eat normally and nutritiously, relax and feel good about themselves and others. It's a time to celebrate the diversity of real women, as well as men, and to help them shift focus from failed weight loss efforts to being healthy at their natural sizes.

One of the week's events is "Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day," on Tues., Jan. 23. The 18th annual Slim Chance Awards are announced, spotlighting the four "worst" weight loss products. This year's "winners": PediaLean, a fiber capsule for children that can clump into an obstructive mass in their throats and stomachs; Isacleanse said to remove [nonexistent] toxins and pollution from your body; ChitoGenics, claimed to block sugars, carbohydrates and fats; and the Magic Ear Staple, stapled into the cartilage of your upper ear to suppress appetite. (For past awards see http://www.healthyweight.net/past)

"Health experts are only beginning to realize the risks people take in efforts to reshape their bodies to thin ideals. These risks range from abdominal pain, faintness and depression, to bone loss, heart arrhythmias and sudden death," says Berg. Her recent books "Underage and Overweight" and "Women Afraid to Eat," articulate the damage done to children and women by current approaches to weight in our society.

SIDEBAR

Three reasons not to diet:

-- Diets don't work; dieters regain weight and often regain more than they lose.

-- Dieting disrupts normal regulation and throws the body into a stressful, defensive state.

-- Dieting leads to disordered eating, and is the primary precursor for eating disorders.

(For more reasons not to diet, see handout "Top 10 Reasons not to Diet" http://www.healthyweight.net)

FOR MORE INFORMATION

http://www.healthyweight.net

TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW

Francie M. Berg

tel 701-567-2646

email beginning subject line with "Berg - interview"

FRANCIE M. BERG, MS, serves as chair of Healthy Weight Week, is a licensed nutritionist, adjunct professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, and author of 11 books. Her new book "Underage and Overweight: Our Childhood Obesity Crisis - What Every Family Needs to Know" explains the real facts behind the obesity crisis and provides a 7-point plan for raising confident healthy-weight children.(http://www.healthyweight.net/media.htm)

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