Health & Fitness

No pencils, no score, no sweat … just fun, knowledge, and health … win, win, win.

Enjoy, but don't peek ahead. The idea is to learn by thinking through the choices, so the answers are on page 2.

  1. What effects does a substantial, balanced breakfast have on our lives?
      a. Adds a little weight, but other improvements outweigh the modest weight gain.
      b. Leaves us groggier all morning, but helps lose some weight, so the tradeoff is a personal choice.
      c. Double whammy: some weight gain, some morning nappies.
      d. Weight loss.
      e. The primary effect is making us late for work.
      f. Pleasurable, but little effect.
      g. Double bonus: lose weight, livens our whole morning.
      h. Yechhh! Who could eat before noon?
  2. Which should we choose, margarine or butter?
      a. Neither is harmful. Eat them interchangeably and moderately.
      b. Both are unhealthy. Eat neither.
      c. Restrict yourself to the softer tub versions of either.
      d. As long as they aren't carbs, it matters little.
  3. Re hamburgers, e coli, and them angry cattle:
      a. Hamburgers are safe when cooked until thoroughly brown in the center and the juices run clear.
      b. They're unsafe when pink in the center.
      c. You must use a meat thermometer to determine their safety.
      d. If you use lots of ketchup; the acid in the ketchup kills the germs as long as the burger's cooked past pink.
      e. If the outside is partly charred and the burger is still hot, it's safe.
      f. Anybody who still eats hamburgers deserves e coli.
      g. Don't sweat e coli; the real risk is mad cow disease.
      h. Don't sweat the e coli or the mad cow disease; the biggest danger is the sat fat in the burger.
  4. What's the best way to sweeten your cereal, tea, etc.?
      a. Aspartame (aka Equal).
      b. Table sugar.
      c. Brown sugar, molasses, honey, corn syrup, turbinado … anything more complex than table sugar.
      d. Saccharin.
      e. Fructose, glucose … the sugars ending in "ose".
      f. Gobs of ice cream.
  5. What modifications are required to make the Atkins diet safe and effective for the long term for the general population?
      a. None. Recent studies proved it safe and effective.
      b. Greatly reduce its saturated and trans fats, i.e., meat, cheese, margarine, butter, dairy, etc.
      c. Add whole grain bread and pasta.
      d. If we made it safe and effective, it wouldn't be the Atkins diet any more.
      e. Why bother? Dr. Atkins' cardiovascular system was a disaster.
  6. What's the verdict on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal women?
      a. Great stuff for hot flashes during the transition, but little help after the fat lady has sung, The Monster is dead, The Curse has ended.
      b. Helps reduce hot flashes during the transition, reduces death rates later. Count on using it the rest of your life.
      c. It's the best solution for severe hot flashes, but downright dangerous after the transition is over.
      d. Ain't my problem (I'm a guy). Do what you want.
      e. The herb, black cohosh, is a safer and equally effective alternative.
  7. How healthy is chocolate?
      a. It is high in antioxidants, which help prevent disease. Moderate amounts of chocolate candy will help our health.
      b. Its fat content does more harm than its antioxidants do good, so every little bit hurts.
      c. As long as your weight is under control, chocolate's calorie count isn't an issue. Enjoy, and reap the benefits of the antioxidants.
      d. Only dark chocolate with no milk has effective antioxidants, antioxidants have not been proven beneficial anyway, and few chocolate candies have no milk. Eschew, not chew, chocolate.
      e. Only milk chocolate helps prevent disease, because its antioxidant benefit outweighs its fat harm.
      f. Who cares? You only live once.
  8. How do the new arthritis/anti-inflammation meds such as Vioxx, Bextra, and Celebrex improve upon the old ones like Motrin, Advil, and aspirin?
      a. They eliminate or greatly reduce the stomach bleeding common with the older NSAIDS.
      b. They are quite a bit safer and more effective than older versions as long as they are taken with meals.
      c. They don't reduce the bleeding, but fight pain significantly better.
      d. They cost eight times as much as Motrin, et.al., but are worth it if you have had ulcers in the past.
      e. The only differences are in the label and the cost, not the risks and benefits.
  9. Which kills more Americans, cigarettes or obesity?
      a. Duh.
      b. Obesity.
      c. Cigarettes.
      d. Cigarettes today, with obesity closing fast and about to "win" the race within a year or two.
      e. Heart disease and cancer.
      f. Neither. Diabetes.
  10. Kerry or Bush?
      a. The answer is SO obvious it's not even worth discussing.
      b. It's a real dilemma except for dedicated party hacks.
      c. This isn't a health issue.
      d. Sure it is: Medicare, prescription drugs aid, socialized medicine, the terrorist threat, abortion, etc.
      e. It's just one person, so who cares? The balance in the Congress determines which way the wind blows.
      f. The Congress blows.

Here come the answers:

  1. Most people do H anyway; when did you ever pass up the donut tray at work? C'mon, guys, it's G. If your answer was H, just wait until you start eating more in the morning and less in the evening. Your health, weight, alertness, memory, attention span, and physical performance will all improve.
  2. B. Quit both and use olive or canola oil instead. The more we learn about the trans fats in margarine, the worse it looks, and butter is a sat fat bomb.
  3. Long term, H. Short term, C when you're actually cooking your very infrequent burger. Ground meat must reach 160 degrees in its thickest part to kill food poisoning bacteria, and that ca mean anywhere from pink to brown. Charred meat is carcinogenic, mad cow disease is less of a risk than lightning, and it's not the buns in hamburgers that harm non-diabetics; it's the burger itself.
  4. A. It's safer than the air most of us breathe, non-fattening, and avoids the aftertaste of saccharin (which is safe). The other options are just sugar in different guises, and high fructose corn syrup is being criticized as a hazardous invention of the late 20th century. (More to come in a future column; your IBS cramps may be because of all the high fructose corn syrup you're drinking and eating every day.) Aspartame's only risk is to people who have phenylketonuria (PKU), who would know if they have it.
  5. D. Oh, yes … and E. Yes, recent tests, funded by Atkins, surprised the medical field by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, and confirmed again that people can lose early weight quickly with Atkins. But very few people stick with it, which is a good thing because overwhelming evidence still proves it harmful in the long term. We need carbs, and even the Atkins Machine now sheepishly says, "Oh, yes …cut the fat." Low carb is still hype, folks, unless you're officially diabetic or pre-diabetic.
  6. C. HRT is the only recognized, safe solution to moderate to severe menopausal hot flashes, but it is so risky beyond that that its studies were terminated early because the studies' subjects were terminating early (literary license, but you get the point). Your doctor needs to guide you through HRT to ensure you confine its use to the year or so the menopausal transition takes and taper off safely after that. Beyond hot flashes its increased cardiovascular risk and death rates far outweighs any benefits. Many women find HRT side effects worse than their hot flashes anyway. Black cohosh promotes the spread of cancer. Avoid it.
  7. D is closest. Only dark chocolate raises blood stream antioxidants, antioxidants have not been proven to prevent disease, and any form of chocolate contains saturated and trans fats. Treat chocolate as the rare, "sinful" treat it is. And F is a good reason not to eat much chocolate.
  8. E. The bleeding threat is statistically identical. The rest is essentially hype, so don't assume your stomach and life are any less at risk just because you paid 700% more for your NSAID.
  9. D is most correct. Sure, the actual resulting cause of death is E, and obesity very often causes diabetes, but so MANY of the heart attacks and cancer are caused by D. Either way, our choices are killing us.
  10. I think we can agree on F, but I ain't touching the other choices here with a ten foot cattle prod.

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