I was reminded of that when I looked at two newspaper stories that were exactly one week apart. Both were backed up by research and statistics, but their findings were contradictory. The articles dealt with health, which happens to be my focus for another five days. At that time my restricted diet and cleanse comes to an immediate halt.I generally try to eat healthily and avoid most bad eating habits, but I have been known to give into the dark side and indulge in potato chips or ice-cream if I am up late at night. To be perfectly honest, sometimes I throw caution to the wind and check out my wife’s cold room after she has gone to bed. It is typically stocked with plenty of healthy food items ranging from canned fruit to nutritional cereal, bars and unsweetened juices. However, it is the sight of a potato chip bag and vision of salty chips that kick-starts my salivary process. Thinking of a big (and I mean real big) bowl of ice-cream will also do the trick. However, since my wife and I and a few other people are on a health cleanse, I had to give up my bad habits and find healthy alternatives. Instead of eating an entire bag of chips that contains enough potassium chloride to cure a small ham, I now exit the cold room with a bag of rice cakes under my arm. They are naturally tasteless and have all the palatable qualities associated with cardboard, but rice cakes that are flavoured can make a decent substitute for a high-calorie snack (but it takes a little practice and retraining of a person’s taste buds). I discovered yogurt works well as a substitute for ice-cream, especially if it is frozen. Despite yogurts many flavours, it is not an acceptable food group during our detoxification process. The only acceptable substitute for ice-cream or yogurt at this particular time is abstinence and that definitely doesn’t stimulate anyone’s taste buds. However, it is an effective ingredient in any weight-loss program. Getting back to the newspaper articles on health, one stated that everyone gains weight in their middle age which raises a person’s risk of falling victim to various diseases. The risk increases if excess weight appears around a person’s waist as compared to their legs or thighs (or double chins according to my rationale). Belly fat is apparently linked to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other nasty metabolic ailments. Research indicates most middle-aged people will see a five per cent increase in their body mass index (BMI) over a 10-year period. Exercising will help reduce a person’s BMI, but it is apparently very difficult to prevent weight gain as a person ages. The best hope is to exercise and keep the ongoing accumulation of fat cells to a minimum. As for me, I watched the phenomenon and didn’t make any attempt to stop it. It silently creeps up on a person and all of sudden pants don’t fit and belts will no longer buckle up. My first significant weight gain was noticed at the age of 30 years as I had put on five pounds. The three per cent increase in weight was definitely not due to muscle building. Ten more pounds accumulated by the time I was 40. I added another pound per year over the next 10 years and attribute that to overindulging in potato chips, taco chips and salsa and a generous supply of ice-cream. The second news story I read last Friday had a catchy title: “Better to be chubby than scrawny, study finds.” It simply stated that people who are underweight will die sooner than their obese counterparts. In fact, skinny people have a 1.8 times higher risk of dying than a person with a normal BMI, according to the Canadian study. Compared to individuals with normal BMI, the risk of obese people dying is only 1.2 times higher. Severely obese individuals reportedly have a risk factor that is 1.3 times higher than normal. Both studies agreed the most important aspect of a person’s weight is the circumference of their waist. Mid-section fat cells are apparently far more dangerous than any other accumulations of fat on a person’s body (including double chins). That is good news for my father and me since his nickname as a young man was fat head. As for those people we hate – the ones that eat whatever they want and never gain any weight – rest assured they will be the ones that keel over first when the next famine strikes.