Mother’s Day Musings

Today is Mother’s Day, the day we set aside to think about and honor our mothers, and to let them know how much we appreciate their love and devotion.  Two days from now, May 11, marks the 45th anniversary of my own mother’s death.  I miss her still.  I regard it as one of the tragedies of my life that just on the verge of forming an adult relationship with my mother, I lost the...
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Smoke-Free Michigan – Everybody Wins

Today – May 1, 2010 – my home state of Michigan becomes smoke-free, joining 38 other states that have already enacted some version of this policy.* Fittingly, the new measure is named for the late Dr. Ron Davis, a tireless supporter of this legislation and a friend to all who care about the public health. Rest in peace, Ron. For me, as for most nonsmokers, this change is cause to celebrate....
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The Mis-Rule of Thirds

If you’re a smoker who’s ever expressed concern about gaining weight if you quit, you may have encountered the “rule of thirds” somewhere along the line.  The smoking cessation rule of thirds says, essentially, that around a third of quitters gain weight, a third remain the same, and a third actually lose weight. This pat formula cropped up a few decades ago and no one can say exactly...
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Dr. Jean Kilbourne: An Appreciation

Today’s blog post honors Dr. Jean Kilbourne and her work in publicizing the effects of advertising on women and girls.  Over the course of her long career as an author, public speaker, media critic, and documentary filmmaker, she has helped us all see what was hidden in plain sight – that Madison Avenue not only sells us consumer goods but, in her words, “changes the way we think and...
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How Sweet It Is

It tastes good and lifts our spirits.  It comforts us and quells our appetite.  Yet we know it’s bad for us and sometimes suspect we may be addicted to it. I’m talking about sugar – and the love-hate relationship many women have with it.  Unfortunately for many of us, Mother Nature didn’t provide us with brakes when it comes to consuming sugar.  In the wild, it’s probably a good...
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Smoking and Weight: What Big Tobacco Doesn’t Tell You

Some years ago, after I had given a talk to a group of psychologists on weight concerns as a barrier to quitting smoking, an attractive young woman from the audience approached me to say that in the South American country where she had grown up (I can’t remember which one it was), she had never heard that smoking suppresses weight.  Indeed, she hadn’t even put two and two together when she...
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The Not-So-Big Meal

Most people’s lists of life-changing books focus on great works of literature, philosophy, and religion.  Prominent on mine is Sarah Susanka’s The Not So Big House. Susanka popularized the notion that when it comes to living spaces, bigger is not necessarily better, and showed the world how to put it into practice. She convinced us we didn’t need to duplicate functions or devote a lot of...
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“Torches of Liberty”

My diatribes about tobacco advertising often focus on its role in promoting nicotine’s weight-suppressing effects (and probably in encouraging our strong preference for slimness as well).  Like all successful seducers, however, the tobacco industry has more than one arrow in its quiver.  In this post I’d like to talk about smoking as a symbol of women’s rights and the way in which the...
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Salt Worse than Smoking? Here We Go Again

You saw it on webmd.com – you know, the folks who pride themselves on “bring[ing] you the most objective, trustworthy, and accurate health information on the web. “ Cutting salt, shouts the headline, is “as good as quitting smoking.”  “Half a teaspoon less salt a day,” they continue, “would prevent 92,000 deaths, 99,000 heart attacks, 66,000 strokes.” Hmmm, you may be asking...
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The End of Overeating: A Review

I have read many explanations for the so-called “obesity epidemic” in the U.S. The phenomenon is undoubtedly multifactorial, with the success of anti-smoking public health campaigns and consequent postcessation weight gain numbering among the culprits.  Other possible contributors include the aging population and ethnic shifts that increase the representation of groups that place...
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