Video: Study links girls' depression, obesity

By Tom Costello Correspondent
NBC News
updated 4/21/2005 7:48:45 PM ET 2005-04-21T23:48:45

In Miami, Lenny and Debbie Altieri say they've got health and diet information overload.

"It's just confusing," says Lenny. "There's just too many diets."

And much of it seems contradictory. After years of telling us we must lose weight, a new study finds that if we're moderately overweight, we may actually have a lower risk of death than if we're at our optimum weight.


Well, there's more. In Atlanta, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 26,000 deaths each year are linked to packing on the pounds — not the 400,000 it reported last year.

Still, if you believe the government, two-thirds of the country is overweight or obese.

"We believe the implications are very serious," says Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns. "You could literally have a generation of kids who have less quality of life than the previous generation."

So, with great fanfare, the government this week threw out the old food pyramid, which it said was too confusing, and replaced it with 12 personalized pyramids and a Web site:

That, say critics, is not good enough.

"Given that obesity is such a big problem in this country, it's not enough for the government to pin all of its hopes on a little triangle and a Web site," says Margo Wootan, nutrition director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Americans are used to having conflicting advice about their health. In the 1970s, eggs were in and touted as a great source of protein. In the 1980s and 1990s, they were out because of too much cholesterol. Now, they're back in again

"Nutrition is evolutionary. It's not revolutionary, so we have to keep looking at it all the time," says Dr. Keith Ayoob, professor of nutrition at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. "I don’t think there are going to be major, major renovations, but there might be a tweak here and there."

But even the government says it's not that confusing.

"It's all about calories in and calories out," says fitness guru Denise Austin, who serves on the President's Fitness Council. "Truly, it's that simple."

So for confused Americans, it's back to the basics: Moderation and exercise.

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