“Let’s Eat Out Tonight”

Inns providing food along with a place to curl up for the night have undoubtedly existed for as long as people have been traveling in large enough numbers to justify the effort.  Establishments where people go for better or fancier food than they eat at home, however, or even just for gastronomic variety, are a more recent phenomenon.  Some historians trace the rise of the modern restaurant to...

The Skinny on Thin

A group of researchers at Brigham Young University recently reported on a study in which they exposed groups of men and women to pictures of obese same-sex individuals wearing swimsuits, and then instructed to imagine someone saying “your body looks like hers/his.” Participants were selected for being slim and having no history of eating disorders.  Imaging techniques were used to...

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...

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...

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...

Start Smoking to Lose Weight? Not on Your Life!

Yep, that’s me, age 18 or so, working hard to become a smoker.  (And in case you were wondering: No, that’s not my husband; this photo was taken long before I met him.) I was luckier than the smokers we studied in the Nicotine Research Laboratory in that I never succeeded in learning to inhale.  So I never took in enough nicotine to become addicted, and eventually I decided that...

Smoking and Weight: Three Questions You Shouldn’t Ask and One You Should

Wrong question #1: Which is a more serious threat to your health, smoking or obesity? It’s a question that epidemiologists bat around periodically.  A few years back, a group of respected scientists announced that obesity was rapidly overtaking smoking as a cause of disease and death, then found themselves in the embarrassing position of having to retract their claim because of a data analytic...

“If You Can Walk, You Can Dance”

Until his untimely death from kidney failure in 2002, Tomás Chavez was a fixture on the Ann Arbor fitness scene.  At various times over the years, I took classes in floor aerobics, step aerobics, and ballroom dancing with Tomás at the local gym.  My husband gamely joined me in the ballroom dance classes, despite being, in his own words, “dance-impaired” (hard to explain when he’s an...
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