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Exercise, throw out the Jiggs Dinner

The word is officially out in relation to Central Newfoundland.

We're porkers.

A study released from the Canadian Institute for Health Information said 31 per cent of people living within the Central Health Region are obese, the highest in the province, a dubious honour that used to belong to Labrador.

Why are so many of us packing on the pounds? And not even the kind putting some of us in the "little bit" or "somewhat" territory of overweight, but the unhealthy kind?

That number should be a wake-up call. Is it coincidental that the Central region has the highest incidence of Type II diabetes? Being very overweight and having adult-onset diabetes are known as lifestyle diseases. In other words, change part of your lifestyle for the better, and you reduce the chances of developing those conditions.

Newfoundlanders, and indeed much of the world where Western eating excess has been adopted, really have to change their attitudes towards eating and exercise.

There are some genetic conditions that may work against you. Human bodies are generally endomorphic, ectomorphic or mesomorphic. If you're an ectomorph, you're probably one of those people who can eat just anything you like and still not put weight. If you tend towards being a mesomorph, you're likely one of those who look like Mr. Muscles or Ms. Olympia without going to the gym. Then there are the endomorphs, the gang who swears that even looking at a piece of chocolate puts on 10 pounds.

But your endomorphic self shouldn't use genetics to explain your weight gain. "I'm not overweight, I just have big bones" is just that - an excuse. Thank God you don't have a real condition that can explain extreme weight gain, like having to take certain steroids to manage a serious health problem. Or Prader-Willi Syndrome, a genetic defect whose sufferers are incapable of feeling full, where some parents have to lock fridges and cupboards because Junior ate a 10-pound bag of raw bacon.

But Prader-Willi is extremely rare. We don't need to eat as much as we do; the French and Italians enjoy rich foods, but they don't SuperSize their portions - and "slow food" is the way to go, savouring the tastes with good company.

And no matter how much Nan and Pop like their Jiggs dinner, food like that has got to go. Heart attack and stroke central! We need to enjoy the Newfoundland staples actually good for us, like fish, the wonder food, vegetables (locally grown if possible) not cooked to mush, "superberries" from the province's bogs, sweet and full of nutrition.

Sensible eating is one key opening the door to good health. The second key is exercise. Get away from your computers for a while. And it's not always expensive. In Grand Falls-Windsor, there are no shortages of sidewalks, and hiking trails are not far away. Don't forget about the best outdoor exercise facility around, at no cost - the Corduroy Brook Nature Trail, 10 kilometres of awesome.

We have enough genetic challenges in our makeup, like proneness to cardiovascular conditions. Many of us are not fisherpeople, farmers or outfitters, jobs where we need hearty foods and are burning calories at our work.

Our bodies are supposedly our temples, holy in their own way. It's our obligation to make sure those temples are long-lasting - so we can share a healthy future with our loved ones, and our communities.

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