In a Word . . . Health

 

It has become a laugh, this talk of weight. Who can take these “studies” seriously? Sense, that’s all you need. Ignore the rest. I’ve been doing just that for years now. It began when I read that star Irish rugby player Brian O’Driscoll was clinically obese. Pure daft. His distinguished company has been joined by top American footballer Tom Brady, he of the New England Patriots.

Is that a belly laugh I hear before me?

As if to confirm such nonsense I read last month how research conducted over 40 years by Copenhagen Hospital University, involving 100,000 people, found that those deemed “overweight” according to their BMI (Body Mass Index) were more likely to live longer than those considered “healthy”, “underweight” and “obese”. Ah, now!

And that those in the “obese” category had the same risk of death as those classified “normal” when family health history is taken into account.

Lo, another conventional wisdom turned on its head.

A few days later I came across research published in the UK’s Lancet which warned against LOW-salt diets as they can increase the risk of heart disease and death.

And there was I thinking salt was the most evil four-letter word of all!

Hot on its heels came a report from UK health charity the National Obesity Forum, and the Public Health Collaboration there, advising that “eating fat does not make you fat”. It warned against low-fat diets and lowering cholesterol as having “disastrous health consequences”.

It called for a return to “whole foods” such as meat, fish and dairy, as well as high-fat healthy foods. It said saturated fat does not cause heart disease while full-fat diary – including milk, yoghurt and cheese – can actually protect the heart. Confused? Don’t be. Forget what’s ridiculous.

But do try to avoid bouts of Flat Belly Envy (FBE). This can occur on beaches; when watching football; wherever the lithe are seen. It is not fatal, but can be chronic. Be comforted. The cure is worse, far, far worse – hours and hours on a treadmill, that modern version of a medieval instrument of torture, the rack. Forget it, and “. . . beyond a wholesome discipline/be gentle with yourself”.

Health, from Old English hal, meaning hale or whole. Also Old English haelan, to heal. Derived from Old Norse heil/helge, meaning holy/sacred. inaword@irishtimes.com

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