The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Editorials

April 8, 2014

Nutrition

The bad news last week was that West Virginia doesn’t just have the most obese city in the nation in Huntington, but we had Martinsburg waddling in at No. 3 and Charleston at No. 6 on the list, too.

The researchers were a grim sort who, we assume, have not an ounce of extra body fat between them. They warned Americans about our physiques. And we’d better listen up, or else:

“In order to combat the trend and encourage individuals to make healthier choices, community-based policy and environmental approaches can, and should, be used.”

What they mean is the government should get involved in ordering us what to eat and drink while sitting in our kitchens or at a restaurant table.

This would be the same government that told us we had to eat margarine instead of butter (marge contained, then, artery-clogging hydrogenated fats. Butter is better, we now know).

The government that told us we should eat, say, two eggs a year or health problems would descend on us like a doomsday cloud (new studies now show eggs are wholesome, healthy and a cheap source of protein).

We could — and we’re awfully tempted — go on and on here about how wrong the government has been about nutrition in the past few decades. In fact, many people believe the federal government’s oft-revised “food pyramid” with a little protein on the top and loads of carbs at the bottom may have contributed greatly to the nation’s obesity and diabetes problems.

But researchers taketh, and also giveth.

Another story last week had a study that confirmed decade-old research on “The Obesity Paradox,” and how heavier people might just outlive skinnier ones in the long run. The theory is that over the course of our lives, being a little full-formed can help us fight off disease later in life.

“Looks can be deceiving,” said cardiologist Carl J. Lavie from the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans.

We’re not advocating that being extremely overweight is a good thing for anybody, but the contradictory advice we’ve received over the years does not give us a lot of confidence in the words of government bureaucrats or whoever is diet doctor-of-the-day on television.

The best advice is still to use moderation in all things, including what you eat.

For our part, we’re going to enjoy the Chocolate Festival this weekend in Lewisburg. And we’re not going to feel one sweet bite guilty about it.

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