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Could one less cookie a day help the fight against fat?

Eating 100 fewer calories a dayroughly three bites of a fast-food hamburgercould prevent the 1.8 to 2.0 pounds that the average person gains per year, according to new estimates by James Hill and colleagues. Their article appears in the 7 February issue of the journal Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

v While 100 fewer calories isnt enough to bring about weight loss, it represents a specific, manageable strategy that people can use to stop the current trend in our ever-fattening population, according to Hill, a researcher at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. This is the most urgent priority in addressing the obesity epidemic, he said.

We asked ourselves, whats it going to take to start turning the tide? Hill said. The first measure of success is to stop weight gain. That might not be so overwhelming, since we can break it down into concrete steps.

Hill and his colleagues studied data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. Obesity is generally defined as having a body mass index, or BMI, (a measure of body weight based on height and weight) of 30 or more. Worldwide, over 300 million are obese, according to the World Health Organization.

The NHANES data showed that the prevalence of obesity increased from 23 percent to 31 percent between 1988 and 1994 in the United States. Hills team calculated that if weight gain continues at the present rate, 39 percent of the U.S. population will be obese in 2008.

Stopping this so-called obesity epidemic will require two types of approaches, according to Hill. The long-term approach would be to mount a social change campaign, akin to those for smoking cessation, seat belt use, and recycling, to build an environment more supportive of healthy lifestyles.

The short-term goal of stopping weight gain requires first
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Contact: Lisa Onaga
lonaga@aaas.org
202-326-7088
American Association for the Advancement of Science
6-Feb-2003


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