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The BMI Debate: Is it an Accurate Measure of Health?

As a registered dietitian, I don’t have a problem with the Body Mass Index (BMI.) This is probably because my expectations are entirely in line.

I understand that it is only one of several nutritional status assessment tools. It is an inexpensive and easy way to administer and uncover possible health problems. No screening tool is perfect, however. There are always false negatives and false positives. The BMI was actually designed for population studies, not for diagnosing individuals.

Body Mass Index is a proxy measure of a person’s “degree of adiposity,” or fatness. It is calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. The concept was devised by scientists in the 1800s, but it did not become an international standard for measuring obesity until the 1980s. In the late 1990s, it received popular attention when the government made it part of healthy eating and exercise initiatives.

For practical use, BMI is displayed as a “BMI chart” with weight on one axis and height on the other. A BMI of 18.5 to 25 corresponds to the “healthy weight” range; BMI less than 18.5 indicates underweight; BMI between 25 – 29.9 is the overweight range. Obesity starts when BMI is 30, and it is considered “extreme” when BMI is 40 or higher.
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For Dr. Oz’s Green Coffee Bean, Conflicts of Interest and Flawed Studies Abound

Health Tips from Yahoo! Reluctantly Healthy

When Starbucks adds Green Coffee Bean Extract for a “boost of natural energy” in Starbucks Refreshers™, I understand it. But when Dr. Oz calls Green Coffee Bean Extract (GCBE) the “Miracle Pill to Burn Fat,” I don’t get it so much. During the last week of April, (aka bathing suit week), Dr. Oz featured GCBE on his show. From the looks of my inbox, I see another push for Labor Day, second only to January 1st as the best day to start a diet.

Dr. Oz laid it on thick for Green Coffee Bean Extract. “Breaking news: The coffee bean, in its purest raw form, may hold the secret to weight loss. Women and men who took GCBE lost an astounding amount of fat and weight – 17 pounds in 22 weeks – by doing absolutely nothing extra in their day.” It’s “the magic you’ve been waiting for.”

The segment reported one very small study of 16 healthy adults living in India. The subjects took two different doses of GCBE and a placebo, all in capsule form over four-week intervals for 22 weeks, which is when they lost the 17 pounds. The study wasn’t tight: the subjects weren’t blinded, diet and exercise information was gathered by recall, and side-effects weren’t measured, and so any safety claims are false. The analysis didn’t hold up because, regardless of dosage or even placebo, the subjects all lost weight in the beginning before leveling off just like every other diet. The website Science-based Medicine analyzed the study nicely in Dr. Oz and Green Coffee Beans – More Weight Loss Pseudoscience.
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How Many Calories Do We Really Need?

By Mary Hartley, RD, with Dana Shultz

All of the diet and health advice we’re fed today can be confusing. But some have suggested that what it really all comes down to is eating the right amount of calories and staying active most days of the week. While this may sound like a simple solution, ‘how many calories we really need’ can be rather elusive.

There’s a whole slough of online tools that promise to accurately calculate the amount of calories we require. But how many of us really know if we’re ‘moderately active’ or ‘vigorously active?’ What’s the difference between the two. And are we also to assume that all women 5’5” tall and 130 pounds have the same resting metabolic rate?

To answer these sometimes baffling questions, DietsInReview.com’s Registered Dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD, weighs in to help us find the truth about what we really need to know when it comes to calorie requirements.
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ObamaCare Approval Means Insurance Mandate for All Americans

Call it a tax, but there is no such thing as a free lunch.

ObamaCare (a.k.a. The Affordable Care Act or ACA) is a huge law with sections and subsections. It was introduced because 30 million Americans do not have health insurance, which is considered by many to be a basic right, and to mandate incentives to make the health care system more efficient, effective and safe. The law would force every American to carry health insurance and obligate insurance companies to cover everyone, even those with pre-existing medical conditions. But a few key provisions were challenged by states and parts of the federal government on the basis of constitutionality. The Supreme Court was brought in to decide the argument.

Two key provisions caused the most concern:
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PCOS Treatment Relies Heavily on a Healthy Lifestyle

This week, we’re helping to raise understanding about infertility by recognizing National Infertility Awareness Week. One in eight couples of childbearing age is diagnosed with infertility, and for women, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a leading cause. It is a hormonal imbalance accompanied by two of three characteristics: overproduction of androgens (male hormones); irregular menstrual cycles; and an ultrasound that shows ovaries with tiny follicles that look like cysts but are not. PCOS affects six to eight percent of women of childbearing age.

The signs of PCOS vary greatly among women. Some have excessive hair growth in a male pattern, as well as weight gain, acne, and scalp hair loss. Others have insulin resistance that may lead to diabetes, with lipid disorders and high blood pressure. The good news is that women with PCOS can and do get pregnant, but conception often means an unpleasant ordeal of tests, procedures, cycle tracking, and medications, not to mention cost.

Lifestyle interventions (i.e. healthy eating and activity) that help control weight are a cornerstone of PCOS treatment. Having too much body fat and eating too many carbohydrates aggravates insulin resistance and hormonal imbalance. The diet for PCOS should have only the number of calories that it takes to maintain a healthy weight and carbohydrates should not contribute more than 40 to 50 percent of total calories.
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