Math error doesn’t mean no problem

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 26, 2004

As Americans prepare to strap on the feedbag tomorrow for the annual carbfest known as Thanksgiving dinner, news that the Centers for Disease Control appears to have overstated the pervasiveness of the obesity epidemic couldn’t have come at a better time.

Last spring, the CDC reported that physical inactivity and poor diet were responsible for as many as 400,000 deaths in 2000, a 33 percent increase over a single decade. The CDC also warned that obesity was about to overtake smoking as the number one preventable cause of death.

Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting, it appears the CDC jumped the gun and that mathematical errors caused an overstatement the number of preventable deaths from obesity by 80,000. That puts the increase from 1990 to 2000 at just 10 percent.

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Good news, sure, but the error doesn’t change the fact that obesity remains the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States and as such remains a cause for concern.

Our lack of fitness, coupled with recent news that drugs we’re relying on to relieve the maladies caused by it may be doing more harm than good,

remain the biggest health challenges facing Americans.

The cure for many of these ailments – from high blood pressure and cholesterol, to diabetes and acid reflux, result primarily from our poor diets and lack of physical activity. Neither a pill, nor a fad diet is going to fix what is ailing us. What will is getting off the sofa, getting out from behind the desk, and taking a walk. The benefits of even moderate increases in physical activity are remarkably beneficial. That coupled with portion control are the keys to staying healthy.

Go ahead and enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner – we intend to — have seconds on the mashed potatoes and pie. But instead of watching football afterward, how about playing a little?, or doing something a little less dangerous, like taking a walk. You’ll be doing yourself, and your healthcare bills, a big favor.