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Published December 06, 2010, 12:00 AM

Wagner: Improved eating habits may be good resolution

In a much-touted health study published last week, the National Institutes of Health warned that being overweight, even slightly, dramatically increases our risk of death.

In a much-touted health study published last week, the National Institutes of Health warned that being overweight, even slightly, dramatically increases our risk of death.

Researchers used body mass index (BMI), which is frequently used to determine percentage of body fat based on height and weight, as the baseline for the study.

We’ve all heard the stories about how Americans are becoming more obese, and studies like this presumably are aimed at scaring us into healthier lifestyles.

But there’s no magic wand.

Just one day after the BMI study’s release, the online version of Runner’s World magazine publicized a small study about whether training for marathons always results in weight loss.

The study wasn’t large enough to reach statistical significance, but the results were interesting and noteworthy.

In short, runners who weren’t overweight at the start of their marathon training didn’t shed pounds. Still, others lost or gained weight.

In my own experience, my weight has changed little during a perpetual cycle of marathon training, yet race times have consistently improved.

For athletes, the BMI doesn’t usually work as a reliable barometer for health, mainly because it doesn’t account for lean body mass.

Runners leaving comments on my blog last week agreed they don’t count on the BMI to gauge health.

Still, the above-mentioned studies offer something to think about.

It’s a good reason to pause and think about what we’re eating and why. We all have an ideal weight for running.

Far from an expert on nutrition, my eating habits are far from ideal. There are improvements that I can make, especially if I want to reach my best.

Now that sounds like a New Year’s resolution in the making.


Forum News Director Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at runningspud.areavoices.com. He can be reached via email at swagner@forumcomm.com.

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