Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Eschewing the Fat: Many Find Now Is the Right Time to Shape Up

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Eschewing the Fat: Many Find Now Is the Right Time to Shape Up

Article excerpt

Goodbye cookies and eggnog, hello broiled fish and baked chicken. And please hold the butter.

People yearning to burn off the growth of Christmas past are heading in droves to the seafood sections, weight clinics and gymnasiums. Here are a few examples:

At the new Washington University Weight Management Center, so many people have called for help that the center had to hire a new telephone person.

The YMCA of Greater St. Louis expects to sign up 2,500 new members this month. January, the month of steely resolve, always is the Y's biggest time for applications.

At Bob's Seafood in the University City loop area, the big Christmas sales of rich shrimp, oysters and crabmeat have taken a deep-sea dive. Now the demand is for sensible, low-fat, lemon sole, said owner Barb Mepham.

"They cook differently, too," Mepham said. "They bake or broil, and they make stews and chowders."

So says Julie Oliva, who has been in the seafood business for 12 years with the Straub's store in the Central West End.

"Every January, we see an increase in seafood sales. It's so prevalent that the entire industry recognizes it," Oliva said.

Most of this behavior comes with the season. People feast during the holidays and resolve to do better in the new year. But if the nutritionists are correct, it's later than we might think.

Year by year, Americans are getting plumper and exercising less. And the answer isn't in a bag of low-fat chips.

Here is how Marjorie Sawicki, a registered dietitian at the St. Louis University School of Allied Health Professions, reads the health studies and sees the curve (or bulge):

About one-third of America's adults are considered overweight, up from 24 percent in 1980.

Even allowing for the rising average age of Americans, participation in organized sports is down 10 percent in a decade.

The average daily intake of fat is down to 34 percent today from 40 percent in the 1960s, but total calorie consumption has risen.

"We're eating fewer visible fats - the gravies, salad dressings, sour creams and butter," Sawicki said. "But we eat more foods with hidden fats. Things like muffins. And there is an increase in consumption of meats, ice cream and desserts. …

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