From The News …

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Lawmakers Consider Mandating Low-Fat Milk

Well, I am shocked … some politicians are considering a law to (ahem) help curb childhood obesity, but the theory behind the law isn’t backed by science. I know, I know: you can’t believe members of The Anointed would try to impose a Grand Plan without first presenting solid evidence the Grand Plan will work. Anyway, some quotes from a news article:

Milk — it does a body bad? Some Connecticut lawmakers seem to think so. The state legislature is considering a bill that would ban day care centers from serving whole milk or 2 percent milk to children. The move, according to the bill’s sponsors, is aimed at curbing childhood obesity — but opponents say the information is outdated.

I’m not sure outdated is the correct word here. If you ask me the population of the U.S. and I quote a figure from the 1990 Census, my information is outdated – it was correct at one time, but isn’t correct now because the data has changed. The idea that whole milk makes kids fat isn’t outdated.  It’s wrong.  It’s wrong now, and it was wrong when this happened:

While the American Academy of Pediatrics put out a 2008 recommendation that children switch to low-fat milk after the age of 2 because they don’t need the fat content, others argue that the fat isn’t the dietary demon some claim.

That’s we why ignored our pediatrician’s low-fat milk advice when the girls were toddlers. Kids do need the fat content. They need the fat for their rapidly-growing brains.

The Connecticut bill would set stringent standards.  It reads: “No child day care center, group day care home or family day care home shall provide milk with a milk fat content greater than 1 percent to any child 2 years of age or older under the care of such facility unless milk with a higher milk fat content is medically required for an individual child, as documented by such child’s medical provider.”

Family day care home … that means if your friends or neighbors pay you to watch their kids, the Connecticut legislators are telling you what kind of milk you can serve – in your home.   It’s not up to you, and it’s not up the parents who have entrusted their kids to you.  It’s up to some legislators to decide what’s best for those kids.  They are, after all, The Anointed.

In a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, reviewers found that high-fat dairy was associated with a lower risk of obesity.

Yup.  Here’s a link to an abstract for another study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care, in which the researchers reached this conclusion:

A high intake of dairy fat was associated with a lower risk of central obesity and a low dairy fat intake was associated with a higher risk of central obesity.

That’s because dairy fat doesn’t make people fat.  I’m guessing those Connecticut legislators didn’t bother reading the research.

Stop worrying about your weight and go hit the weights

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it at least twice: BMI is a lousy method for determining who’s fat and who isn’t. Turns out it’s also lousy at predicting longevity:

Doctors routinely measure a patient’s body mass index, or BMI. And if that weight-to-height ratio points to obesity, the doc might prescribe exercise, to shed the extra pounds. But when it comes to longevity, a focus on weight loss may be misplaced. Because BMI isn’t actually a very reliable indicator of life span. A more useful measure, some physicians say, might be muscle mass.

Researchers analyzed BMI and muscle mass data from more than 3,600 seniors in a long-term study. And they tracked which seniors had died, a decade later. Turns out BMI wasn’t much good at predicting chance of death.

Quick, somebody inform the feds! Better yet, somebody inform all the insurance companies that consider BMI in their life-insurance rates.

But muscle mass was: more muscle meant better odds of survival. The study appears in The American Journal of Medicine. There’s no cause-and-effect here—just correlation for now. But study author Preethi Srikanthan, of U.C.L.A., has this recommendation: “Get up and start moving. Focus on trying to maintain the maximum amount of resistance training that you can, and stop worrying so much about dropping calories.”

Good point about the correlation. Muscle mass itself may or may not influence longevity directly. Perhaps the kind of exercise that produces more muscle mass also improves metabolic factors that lead to a longer lifespan. Either way, I’d reach the same conclusion: don’t fret so much about achieving a particular weight on the scale. Hit the weights and add some lean muscle mass.  Even if you don’t live longer, you’ll live better.

FDA considers demanding “voluntary” reductions in sodium

Well, here’s how you get people to stop eating so much packaged food – regulate the flavor out of it:

The government wants Americans to get used to eating foods with less of their favorite seasoning — salt. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is planning on issuing new guidelines to food companies and restaurants to decrease out-of-control sodium levels, officials said.

Now, don’t you libertarian types go get all in a tizzy. The FDA says these new guidelines will be “voluntary.” You know how government officials are always going around issuing “voluntary” regulations and then just saying “Aw, geez” and going on their merry way if the regulations are ignored.  I mean, it’s not as if The Anointed would want to force compliance.

Experts said the guidelines are a good starting point, but would not put enough pressure on eateries to limit their use of salt.

“If one company doesn’t lower it, then another one won’t,” said Lisa Young, an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University. “If it’s mandatory, and everyone starts lowering sodium, then we’re in good shape.”

Allow me to interpret that: Members of The Anointed agree that “voluntary” guidelines are a good starting point, as long as they’re not actually voluntary and everyone is eventually forced to comply.

Frank Sacks, a professor of nutrition and medicine at the Harvard School of Public Health, said restaurants and food companies would have to confront the issue sooner or later. “It just appalls me how much salt the chefs will just pour on the food,” said Sacks. “It’s sort of a lazy way of flavoring food. The food industry will eventually be pushed to respond.”

Allow me to interpret that: Frank Sacks, a member of The Anointed, agrees that restaurants and food companies should be forced to comply. “It just appalls me how chefs are salting food to match their customers’ preferences. The food industry should eventually be compelled to serve the low-sodium foods I believe people should eat.”

Average Americans consume an astounding 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day — about 33% more than the federal government’s recommended intake and more than 50% higher than the American Heart Association’s suggested figure. Americans eat about 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt daily, a level of consumption that increases the risk of high blood pressure and strokes.

Allow me to interpret that: We in the media are convinced that 3,400 milligrams of salt is way too much because the federal government and the American Heart Association say so – and as members of The Anointed, we don’t expect them to provide any evidence.

But wait … I seem to recall that a different branch of the government did weigh in on the salt issue awhile back. Let me see if I can dig it up … ahhh, yes, here it is:

CDC Admits Long-Standing Error in Medical Science – There Is No Benefit In Reducing Salt Intake And It May Even Be Dangerous

A recent report commissioned by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reviewed the health benefits of reducing salt intake and the take-home message is that salt, in the quantities consumed by most Americans, is no longer considered a substantial health hazard. What the CDC study reported explicitly is that there is no benefit, and may be a danger, from reducing our salt intake below 1 tsp per day.

So following the AHA’s sodium guidelines could actually be dangerous.

This review by the National Academies Institute of Medicine (IOM), commissioned by CDC, considered dozens of studies, from cross-cultural (less reliable) to prospective, randomized with control (most reliable). Most studies showed no relationship between salt intake and any health outcome. Some seemed to indicate that more salt had a beneficial effect.

Well then, let’s force the food companies to comply with “voluntary” reductions as quickly as possible.

To translate this last study into teaspoons: the finding was that anything between 1-1/2 and 3 tsp of salt per day is just fine, and there were adverse effects from eating more than that or less than that. Most Americans who are not consciously restricting salt fall in this range (1-1/2 to 3 tsp).

So the FDA is about to mandate a reduction in sodium for restaurant and packaged foods because Americans are consuming an “astounding” 1 ½ teaspoons of salt per day — which (according to the CDC) is at the lower end of the beneficial range.  In other words, the FDA wants you to reduce your sodium intake to what could be a dangerous level — for you own good, of course.

Your brain health is in your gut

As Dr. William Davis pointed out in Wheat Belly, the rate of celiac disease has increased by 400% in the past 50 years – and that figure is based on antibodies found in blood samples, so we’re not just seeing the result of better diagnosis.

The number of people diagnosed with attention-deficit problems has also taken a huge jump over the past 50 years. I suspect in that case, the rush to diagnose kids with ADHD does figure into the rise. But comprised gut health probably figures into it as well. Take a look what a study reported in this article found:

Individuals with celiac disease often experience ‘brain fog’ in addition to intestinal problems, but a new study shows that adhering to a gluten-free diet can lead to improvements in cognition that correlate with the extent of intestinal healing.

The Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics findings indicate that ridding the diet of gluten may help address problems that celiac disease patients can experience related to attention, memory, and other mental tasks.

“The study outcomes highlight the importance for individuals with celiac disease of maintaining a gluten-free diet not just for physical well-being but also for mental well-being,” said senior author Dr. Greg Yelland.

Considering that an estimated eight out of 10 people with celiac disease are never diagnosed, you have to wonder how many kids taking drugs for ADHD would be better off dumping the grains, healing their digestive tracts, then dumping the medications.

The USDA, of course, will continue mandating that kids in schools include a grain product in every meal. Then some other branch of the government will step in with a big, expensive program to help kids who have a difficult time concentrating in school.

Fruits and vegetables! Whole grains! Fruits and vegetables!

Poke a government nutritionist (or Michelle Obama) in her sleep, and she’ll blurt out, “Fruits and vegetables! Whole grains! Fruits and vegetables!” Because by gosh, if we could just get people to buy and eat those fruits and vegetables, the obesity epidemic would be solved.

Uh … but not according to a new study:

It is a commonly recommended weight-loss tactic to increase the feeling of being full by consuming more fruits and vegetables, but that may be another diet recommendation dead-end, according to a new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Of course it’s a dead-end recommendation. That’s why it’s also government policy.

Kathryn Kaiser, Ph.D., instructor in the UAB School of Public Health, and a team of investigators at UAB, including Andrew W. Brown, Ph.D., Michelle M. Bohan Brown, Ph.D., James M. Shikany, Dr.PH., and David B. Allison, Ph.D., and Purdue University investigators performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of data of more than 1200 participants in seven randomized controlled trials that focused on increasing fruit and vegetable intake to see effects on weight loss. Their results show that increased fruit and vegetable consumption per se does not reduce body weight.

“Across the board, all studies we reviewed showed a near-zero effect on weight loss,” Kaiser said. “So I don’t think eating more alone is necessarily an effective approach for weight loss because just adding them on top of whatever foods a person may be eating is not likely to cause weight change.”

Fruits and vegetables! Whole grains! Fruits and vegetables!

Sorry, was I asleep? Yes, and I was dreaming I was a government nutritionist. What a horrible nightmare.

“There are many studies where people are spending a lot of money figuring out how to increase fruit and vegetable intake, and there are a lot of healthy things that this helps; but weight loss isn’t one of them,” Kaiser said. Because this recommendation is so widely shared, Kaiser believes these results should bring change to public health messaging.


Dr. Kaiser, if you believe evidence (or a lack thereof) is going to bring change to public-health messaging, you’re the one who’s dreaming. Have you noticed the USDA still mandates skim milk in schools? Did you hear about how the FDA is demanding a lower sodium content in packaged food, even though a CDC study says Americans are actually consuming a beneficial amount of salt?

GMO labels not necessary

Farms groups and mutant creatures agree that GMO labels won’t make a difference, according to an article online:

The public’s unfounded safety concerns over genetically engineered foods might result in higher costs in the grocery store, as well as a potentially catastrophic battle between the forces of good and evil.

A powerful grass-roots movement is fueling legislation that could soon require companies to disclose on food labels if products contain GMOs, or Gigantic Mothra-like Organisms.

The food industry is pouring millions of dollars into lobbying efforts to defeat GMO food labeling bills. Educating a misinformed public about the benefits of genetically engineered products has become the voluntary responsibility of farmers, scientists, and those people who have gained preternatural powers through freakish accidents.

Okay, that last article was on my buddy Dave Jaffe’s Write Good! humor blog, so it was probably a joke. But with all the government (ahem) experts out there setting health and nutrition policies, it’s hard to tell comedy from reality.


60 thoughts on “From The News …

  1. Be

    From one tizzied libertarian to another, this is exactly how the federal government coerces the states; as in, you can set your own speed limits but if you raise it above XX MPH you won’t get any highway funding. We’re gonna take our toys and go home mentality.

    But seriously, right on with everything in this post.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      And of course, when the feds threaten to withhold highway funds, etc., they’re threatening not to give back the money they took from us in the first place.

  2. js290

    I hope we’re observing the demise of command-and-control culture. Salt intake is naturally self limiting. Our sense of taste is a pretty good feedback loop, unless it’s been co-opted by some unnecessary nutrient like sugar. Think about any soda. If the sugar was removed from it, the sodium content by itself would render it completely unpalatable. It’s kind of pathetic to see these legislative attempts at controlling Nature. Fortunately, command-and-control is unsustainable and will eventually dismantle itself. Just have to stand out of the way when it all comes crumbling down.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I agree, but I’m concerned that when it crumbles, some innocent people will be hit by the debris.

  3. Bret

    Tom, why are you always so harsh on the elitists in the government, media, and academia? Don’t you understand how admirable their intentions are? I think we should just give them more of our money with higher “voluntary” taxes.

  4. robert

    How is it possible that a normal human being apparently loses all mental capacity (except for reiterating nonsensical crap) and morale when he / she / it becomes a politician?

    I don’t remember who it was, but some journalist once proposed to radically change how governments are elected. Essentially, members of government should be chosen AT RANDOM from the general public and be limited to one term in office maximum (explicitly forbidding hopping from one function to another).

    Now this may or may not be a bit extreme, but looking at how long some of our politicians stay in office, it is only natural that they are sooner or later drawn in by the dark side. There is so much disconnect between the politician caste and normal people. This caste appears to only serve its own purpose, just like fat.

    “Like a malignant tumor […] the abnormal power-hungry caste seizes on votes, and even in the case of under-representation… It maintains its stock, and may increase it independent of the requirements of the public. A sort of anarchy exists: the political caste lives for itself and does not fit into the precisely regulated management of the whole state.” (freely adapted from GCBC).

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Legendary Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko made that suggestion decades ago. He also proposed that any government employee who couldn’t describe his or her job in one or two plain-English sentences be immediately fired.

      “Tell us what you do again?”
      “I’m in charge of facilitating and coordinating a multifactorial management strategy for implementing–”
      “You’re fired.”

      1. Ham-Bone

        I deal with the customers so the engineers don’t have to! I’m a people person! What is wrong with you people?!

    2. tony

      The professional politician is the biggest threat to all civilized nations. They have become de facto dictators. A limit of one term, a 1 M annual salary to attract the best candidates and outlawing lobbying would be steps in the right direction.

      1. Tom Naughton Post author

        Well, I think that’s attacking the wrong end of the problem. A government that’s too big, too powerful and has vastly exceeded its supposed Constitutional limits is the real problem.

        1. tony

          There is no denial that “government that’s too big, too powerful and has vastly exceeded its supposed Constitutional limits is the real problem.”

          But it did not become like this by magic. Professional politicians were the contaminators. And to remain in power they’ll make government even bigger.

          We need representative/citizens, as intended in the constitution, to rein in the bloated government.

          1. Tom Naughton Post author

            I agree, but until the Supreme Court is no longer populated by weenies too afraid to stand up for the Constitution, there’s little stop government’s natural tendency to acquire more power over time.

            1. tony

              Judges at all levels should be elected and subject to term limits. I’ve had it with infiltrated ringers in the courts making a mockery of the constitution.

              1. Tom Naughton Post author

                I’m not sure electing judges would fix it either. The problem is that since FDR’s day, judges have decided the Constitution means whatever they want it to mean — the “living, breathing” Constitution and all that. Before then, the Supreme Court generally assumed that what is or isn’t Constitutional could be determined by reading the text of the document. That’s why Prohibition required a Constitutional amendment. No way Congress at the time could have simply passed the Volstead Act and expected it to stand, since that law gave the feds powers that clearly exceeded those enumerated in the Constitution. Later, of course, FDR’s court decided the Commerce Clause was basically a loophole the Founders stuck in the Constitution to allow Congress to pass damned near any law it decided was a good idea.

                So if we elect judges, all the big-government lefties have to do is elect judges who agree with that “living, breathing” nonsense, and we’ll end up right back in our current situation, where Congress can pass an abomination like ObamaCare and the dolts on the Supreme Court somehow convince themselves it fits within the federal powers enumerated in the Constitution.

                1. tony

                  All excellent points. However, I have not yet lost faith in the American people to believe they would not vote for constitutional judges. Maybe I’m naive.

                  1. Tom Naughton Post author

                    Well, the American people put Obama in office, so I’m not that optimistic. And far too many voters these days define rights as “I have a right to whatever I want.”

                    I’m not sure there is a solution for the Constitution issue. For all their brilliance in writing the document, the Founders apparently didn’t consider what would happen if people simply ignored it.

                    1. Craig Rich

                      Sadly, I must agree with Tom. The American people have become pretty much like any other people: we want free stuff. We vote for whoever offers to give us stuff the gov’t takes from someone else.

                      We used to value freedom over just about everything. Being free to take care of ourselves. Today, entitlements reign supreme. Just try to find someone trying to slash the budget or cut any program. It’s practically unheard of. Thus, if we could elect judges, the people would choose those who offered the most free stuff/entitlements.

                    2. Tom Naughton Post author

                      Look at most political pitches to the voters in modern times, and they boil down to another variation of “Vote for me — I’ll give you stuff and make other people pay for it!”

      2. Tom Welsh

        “I suggest limiting all elected officials to just two terms – one in office and one in prison”.
        – Kinky Friedman

      3. Tom Welsh

        But seriously… John Kenneth Galbraith suggested that proximity to large sums of money could cloud politicians’ brains. Which would explain why virtually all of them suffer from brain fog.

  5. j

    Who needs parents when you’ve got big gov…I think I’ll go ahead and move to the woods where no one will bother me..hopefully

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I used to think people who went off and lived like hermits were nuts. Now I’m not so sure.

      1. Elenor

        Whaddyah mean yer “not so sure”?! You already dun it! I’ve seen your blog — chainsawin’ brambles, fightin’ foxes for the chickens, skinnin’ and eatin’ raccoons — you’re already there!! (And good on yer for it!)

  6. Stephen

    I’m trying to remember what we had in elementary school back in the 70’s. Don’t know. I just remember the milk was $0.07, and you got graham crackers. That sounds like a subsidized price, even way back then.

    From grade 7 and up, we had the standard crappy junk food from the cafeteria. Everyone drank chocolate milk, and bought cookies. The entree was always something like pizza or lasagna. That stuff made everyone unhealthy. I doubt things have improved.

  7. Kristin

    In the bad old days I would try to keep to a low fat calorie restricted diet by using an online food log. Even in those days I ate whole foods and I was just entering the foods, not the preparation which would have included the added salt. I noticed that just the food was giving me around 2500 mg of salt a day, well over my goal of only 1500. It was the first glimmer to me that something was not right. If eating whole food entirely unsalted put me so far over the government goal, the goal must be ridiculous. I’m still a salt Nazi though. I’ve started carrying my own if I go to a restaurant rather than use the table salt they provide.

    It is entirely ludicrous to see the CDC continue to recommend restricted salt in the same breath where they say it could be dangerous.

  8. Namu

    I have a rare disease that (among other things) makes my kidneys leak sodium excessively, eventually causing hypovolemic and hyponatremic shock. Anywhere below 7-8 g a day puts me at risk of dying (I often have to just eat the salt straight with a spoon). Mandating a limit on my salt intake equals threatening me with death.

    Good thing I don’t live in the US…

  9. Walter Bushell

    “Of course it’s a dead-end recommendation. That’s why it’s also government policy.”

    Now, now, now. You know correlation does not prove causation.

  10. Elle

    Salt is a lazy way of flavoring?!?

    It…that doesn’t….no….cripes, that statement is so wrong I’ve blue-screened. That statement is so incorrect it’s – it’s not even in the same neighborhood as wrong. I mean, even if you aren’t a cook Shakespeare wrote an entire play with how necessary salt is to good dining. Which is based on an even older set of fairy tales all of which emphasize that food without salt is flavorless enough to make men weep.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Salt was considered so important back in the day, people drew their pay in the form of salt — that’s where the word “salary” comes from.

      1. Firebird

        I saw a documentary on PBS not long ago called “Secrets of the Dead” on the Lost Ships of Rome. Among the items they found in ships that were lost 2-3, 000 years ago were bottles filled with a substance made from fish innards that were used as a flavor enhancer…monosodium glutamate.

      2. Greg Jaxon

        Yes, and salt was easy to hoard to store that paycheck. It didn’t spoil and it helped in hoarding foodstuffs.

        I know you’ll also recognize that “pecuniary” (consisting of money) comes from the root word pecu “cattle, flock,” from proto-Indo-European root *peku- “wealth, movable property, livestock” (source of Sanskrit pasu- “cattle,” Gothic faihu “money, fortune,” Old English feoh “cattle, money”). Salt and cattle were the two best ways of carrying value through time and space (the cattle did their own carrying).

        So healthy, wealthy, and now even WISE!

  11. pam

    i have a friend who is a psychologist who works with children in a hospital.

    she told me she has seen kids who have problems due to “lack of fat” in the brain.


  12. Michael Hall

    Thanks for the bulletin board stuff Tom. I would not post much to Facebook without your open eye info. But geez, I have to try and help educate somehow.

    thanks for your time and effort

  13. tony

    Tom, speaking of gaining muscle, I understand you have been very successful in this endeavor working out super slow style on weight machines. For those without access to a gym, can super slow be performed with bodyweight exercises (pushups, squats, pull ups, etc.)?


    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      But they keep us guessing — we know they’ll up the annoyance factor, but we don’t know how.

      1. B35

        I am guessing that the USDA and Michelle Obama will just ignore the CDC’s admission of 1 1/2 to 3 tsp of salt being good.

  14. TMA

    I actually agree with you on milk, but just to play devil’s advocate–in his book, Paul Jaminet talks about how, for the purpose of weight loss, the macronutrient we need to decrease from the perfect health diet is fat, because protein and carbohydrate requirements do not change even when trying to lose weight. Given that advice, it seems like lowfat milk for weight loss would actually make sense, right? Lowfat milk does not have more sugar than whole milk so it isn’t one of those Snackwells type deals. If PJ is right, what’s really the downside of lowfat milk for adults?

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Keep in mind Paul’s diet is still a high-fat diet — 55% or higher. The skim milk being foisted on kids is an attempt to put them on low-fat diets. I’d drink milk as is, then restrict added fats and oils if the purpose were to reduce fat calories for awhile.

      1. Walter Bushell

        And, of course, the skim milk tastes so bad, you have to add chocolate[1] and hence sugar to get the kiddies to drink it.

        [1] Chocolate flavored, hence no chocolate, no dobut.

  15. Ulfric Douglas

    They don’t need new laws : schools and nurseries already worship the low-fat dogma.
    You will never find real milk or raw milk in such establishments.
    Give it five years before things return to proper balance.

  16. Jean Bush

    Don’t forget, the weaker, sicker, broker and more confused we are, the easier we can be controlled.

    Meanwhile, eat your darn

    The Nutrition Source of Harvard School of Public Health makes the following 10 recommendations for a healthy diet:[7]

    Choose good carbohydrates: whole grains (the less processed the better), vegetables, fruits and beans. Avoid white bread, white rice, and the like as well as pastries, sugared sodas, and other highly processed food.[8]

    Pay attention to the protein package: good choices include fish, poultry, nuts, and beans. Try to avoid red meat.[9]

    Choose foods containing healthy fats. Plant oils, nuts, and fish are the best choices. Limit consumption of saturated fats, and avoid foods with trans fat.[7]

    Choose a fiber-filled diet which includes whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.[10]
    Eat more vegetables and fruits—the more colorful and varied, the better.[7]

    Calcium is important, but milk is not its best source. Good sources of calcium are collards, bok choy, fortified soy milk, baked beans, and supplements which contain calcium and vitamin D.[11]

    Water is the best source of liquid. Avoid sugary drinks, and limit intake of juices and milk. Coffee, tea, artificially-sweetened drinks, 100-percent fruit juices, low-fat milk and alcohol can fit into a healthy diet but are best consumed in moderation. Sports drinks are recommended only for people who exercise more than an hour at a stretch to replace substances lost in sweat.[12]

    Limit salt intake.

    Choose more fresh foods, instead of processed ones.[7]
    Moderate alcohol drinking has health benefits, but is not recommended for everyone.[7]
    Daily multivitamin and extra vitamin D intake has potential health benefits.[7]
    Other than nutrition, the guide recommends frequent physical activity (exercise) and maintaining a healthy body weight.[7]


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