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Of late, people, particularly the younger generation, appear to be over zealous about dieting. An unscientific diet is not only bad for your health but it is extremely bad for the restaurant business as well. Hence we have included some guidance on the subject if you care to click here.


Healthy eating
is the practice of making choices about what or how much one eats with the intention of improving or maintaining good health. Typically this means following recommendations of "experts" regarding a nutritional diet. The recommendations may address:

  • total calorie consumption;
  • balance of major nutrients (e.g., proteins, fats, carbohydrates);
  • increased consumption of foods designated as beneficial;
  • decreased consumption of foods designated as detrimental;
  • increased consumption of specific vitamins or other micronutrients;
  • avoidance of certain food additives (dyes, preservatives, sweeteners);
  • avoidance of environmental food contaminants (e.g., mercury, pesticides, herbicides, aflatoxins)
  • methods of food preparation (e.g., raw versus cooked).

The "experts" may be academically certified, or may be self-appointed. The evidence underlying their recommendations may be strong or weak by scientific standards. Our ideas of what counts as "healthy" have varied in different times and places, according to scientific advances in the field of nutrition, cultural fashions, religious proscriptions, or personal considerations.


Nutritional advice

Many governments and other organizations provide nutritional advice and launch schemes in order to promote healthy eating. Diets which lead to obesity (being severely overweight), diabetes, and other medical conditions, are a severe drain of resources for national health providers, and on businesses due to reduced productivity of staff.

A recent health campaign by the American


government has attempted to impress the need to eat lots of fruit and vegetables using the slogan "5 a day". Adverts have given examples of what a portion of fruit or vegetables amounts to, and how 5 or more portions can be incorporated into one's diet.

Governments also put pressure on businesses to promote healthy food options, and regularly consider measures, such as banning the advertising of fast food, or taxing foods which are high in fat.

There is also near-unanimous agreement that hydrogenenated fats (aka trans fats) are not a healthy form of calories, and that consuming some types of fish and seafood (a source of omega-3 fatty acids) before meat and poultry may contribute to an individual's health and longevity. Unfortunately, consumption of predatory fish at the top of the food chain (such as swordfish, mackerel, shark, and albacore tuna) increases ones exposure to mercury and PCBs, so the hazards may outweigh the health benefits as most fish contains trace amounts of pollution.

Eggs have long been a source of controversy -- suffice to say that egg yolks are richer in cholesterol than egg whites, and should be consumed in moderation, whereas egg whites contain little or no substances suspected of causing obesity or heart disease.

Dairy products have had a shorter history of controversy, and charges levelled at dairy focus typically on one of three lines of reasoning. First, that the allegedly-poor conditions present on large-scale dairy farms may lead to sickened cows, which may lead to sickened (high pus) milk. Second, that milk is naturally meant to fatten baby cows into grown heifers in a few short years, and hence may be incompatible with a balanced human diet. Third, that healthy bone structures in humans require both calcium and magnesium. Milk and other dairy products are cited as being high in calcium, but lacking the magnesium levels required for strong bones. Such a deficiency would be mitigated by consuming other foods high in magnesium, such as nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, even certain mineral waters high in the element.

Carrots have also been proven to show improvements in many areas of health such as improved vision as well as lowering your risk of cancer by lowering cholesterol levels in the body.The main component of carrots responsilbe for improving your vision is Beta carotene.This is also responsible for acting as an anti-oxidant which lowers free radicals and thus lowering your chances of cancer or heart attack.

Research is done on the effects of various chemicals - foods and nonfoods - on the mammal physiology. Such research is often funded by medical organizations, or pharmaceutical companies. Each study should be assessed in context: who was funding the research, and what the immediate goals were.

Fears of high cholesterol were frequently voiced up until the mid-1990s. However, more recent research has shown that the distiction between high- and low-density lipoprotein ('good' and 'bad' cholesterol, respectively) must be addressed when speaking of the potential ill effects of cholesterol. High density lipoprotein is often prevelent in animal products, such as bacon and egg yolks, whereas low density lipoprotein is more common in plant and fish tissues, such as olive oil and salmon.


Almost all foods contain tiny amounts of toxins (natural poisonous substances), which normally do not pose a great danger to a healthy individual, due to low concentration. At higher toxin concentrations, a given food could simply not be considered a food. Some toxins may still have negative heath effects on susceptible people. For instance, many are allergic to some nuts, such as peanuts. Whole Wheat Bread
Whole Wheat Bread
The ingredient usually cited as being most critical to good health, water, has even been known to result in death when consumed excessively.

Food additives

Some people claim that food additives, such as artificial sweeteners, colorants, preserving agents, and flavourants may cause health problems even though they were extensively tested before being allowed on the market. For example, artificial colorants are claimed to cause hyperactivity in susceptible children. As another example, people on calorie restricted diets often choose to buy products advertised as "reduced calorie" or "no sugar added". These products contain artificial sweeteners. These are safe to consume in small quantities, and are of low toxicity. Safety studies may well show some advantage in substitutions, product by product. Over a period of time, many different products are approved for sale, each one relying on a study done in isolation, and each one suggesting the artificially sweetened product has fewer associated health problems than equivalent all-natural products. When dieters buy reduced-calorie soft drinks, biscuits, cakes, flavoured water, yogurt, and so on, all may contain combinations of the leading artificial sweeteners aspartame, acesulfame potassium or sucralose. Cumulative doses are at higher levels than those on which the safety studies were based.

The issue of sweetening is just one example. Other taste-enhancing additives (e.g. salt substitutes) or flavourants are also hidden in processed foods and drink, as are colourants. Mandatory food labelling is one attempt to overcome the problem. This invites the consumer to check the ingredients of their foods before consumption. However, the average person has no training in organic chemistry and its nutritional effects. Neither is it practical for individuals to manage score cards recording all the nutrients they consume.

Some would assert that research into the toxicity of many varied artificial ingredients has been inconclusive. The USA 's Food and Drug Administration has very stringent requirements for the introduction of new food ingredients, and this includes rigorous testing on animals, where the animals are given exorbitant amounts of these chemicals - far more than humans ever would be likely to consume.

Studies often attempt to determine whether an artifically-produced food additive is potentially carcinogenic, conduicive to heart disease, or possessing of other malicious properties. A good rule of thumb to remember when reading the results of these studies is that the more widespead a food additive is in existing packaged food, the more likely the studies will conclude said additive to be benign.

A person may, however, not be aware that their diet is unvaried in certain respects. For example, people on calorie restricted diets often choose to buy products advertised as "reduced calorie" or "no sugar added". These products contain artificial sweeteners. These are safe to consume in small quantities, and are of low toxicity. Safety studies may well show some advantage in substitutions, product by product. Over a period of time, many different products are approved for sale, each one relying on a study done in isolation, and each one suggesting the artificially sweetened product has fewer associated health problems than equivalent all-natural products. When dieters buy reduced-calorie soft drinks, biscuits, cakes, flavoured water, yogurt, and so on., all may contain combinations of the leading artificial sweeteners aspartame, acesulfame potassium or sucralose. Cumulative doses are at higher levels than those on which the safety studies were based.



Anorectics, anorexigenics or appetite suppressants, are substances which reduce the desire to eat ("anorectic", from the Greek an- = "not" and oreg- = "extend, reach").

Used on a short term basis clinically to treat obesity, some appetite suppressants are also available over the counter. Drugs of this class are frequently stimulants of


the phenethylamine family, related to amphetamine (speed). Amphetamines were widely issued to British soldiers during the First World War in order to suppress their appetites and thus ease the strain on the over-stretched logistics network. The German military experimented with a similar system in 1945, when food supplies were very short in Germany . Following the Second World War, amphetamines were re-directed for use on the civilian market. Indeed, amphetamine itself was sold commercially as an appetite suppressant until it was outlawed in most parts of the world in the late 1950s due to increasing exploitation of its stimulant properties ("abuse"). Many amphetamines produce side effects including addiction, tachycardia and hypertension, making prolonged unsupervised use dangerous.

Epidemics of fatal pulmonary hypertension and heart valve damage associated with anorectic agents have led to the withdrawal of products from the market. This was the case with aminorex in the 1960s, and again in the 1990s with fenfluramine (see: Fen-phen). Likewise, association of the related appetite suppressant phenylpropanolamine with hemorrhagic stroke led the FDA to request its withdrawal from the market in the United States in 2000, and similar concerns regarding ephedrine resulted in an FDA ban on its inclusion in dietary supplements, in 2004.

In spite of these precedents, numerous related compounds are still marketed today as appetite suppressants. These include:

  • Phentermine
  • Diethylpropion
  • Phendimetrazine
  • Benzphetamine
  • Sibutramine is a recent addition, which is used with orlistat by doctors to control obesity
  • Cannabinoid receptor antagonist
  • Oxyntomodulin
  • Fluoxetine hydrochloride


Body image is a person's perception of his or her physical appearance. A person with a poor body image will perceive his or her own body as being unattractive or even repulsive to others, while a person with a good body image will see him or herself as attractive to others, or will at least accept his or her body in its current form. Perceived body image is not necessarily related to any objective measure or the Keep Your Body Fit
Keep Your Body Fit

average opinion of other people; a person who has a poor body image may be rated as beautiful by others, and a person with a good body image may be rated as unattractive by others. Body image is most strongly affected during puberty.

Research: measuring body image
Body image is often measured by asking the subject to rate his or her current and ideal body shape using a series of depictions. The difference between these two values is the amount of body satisfaction. Unfortunately, this method does not take into account the fact that a person might be aware of being under- or overweight and also satisfied with that circumstance. Consequently, an obese person, whose obesity causes him or her no psychological distress, might be rated as "having a poor body image" simply because he or she is aware of being obese.

Numerous studies have been undertaken to study body dissatisfaction in recent years. Typically, the research indicates that 33% of men and 70% of women rate their current figure as at least slightly larger than ideal and that body dissatisfaction among women is much larger than for men. These numbers suggest that U.S. women are more aware of what a healthy body weight is, since about two-thirds of Americans are at least somewhat above their healthiest weight. Subsequent studies on this issue have justified this idea, as men whose body mass index puts them in the overweight category often think their weight is in the ideal range, and that those who are clinically obese often believe themselves to be merely overweight.

Some research has been undertaken to determine generational differences in body shape preferences by analyzing body size dissatisfaction for children, adolescents, and adults; significant differences between the age groups have been found. The ideal body mass increases as women get older, which in turn decreases the degree of body dissatisfaction. These cohort differences are a confirmation of the recent increase in body dissatisfaction and eating disorders among young women.


Causes and influences
As clearly evidenced by literature around the world, poor body images have existed at least since the widespread availability of mirrors, but one of the reasons most often cited for this continuing body dissatisfaction among young women is modern media influence, including that from movies, television, and magazines. Media representatives often reply that they are merely reflecting the ideals of the current generation or using whatever image best sells their products. However, research has shown that the media play a large role in reinforcing, if not actually shaping, rather than simply reflecting, perceptions of the human body. The circular logic introduced by this phenomenon illustrates the difficulty of placing the blame of negative body image on a single source.

The pre-occupation with skinniness is largely, although not entirely, a development of the latter part of the twentieth century, as the perception of women's body shapes has changed significantly over the past decades. In the early 1940's it was found that people with thin, ectomorphic bodies were perceived by others as nervous, submissive and socially withdrawn. At that time, the ideal female body was curvy or hourglass-shaped. Before that, in the 1920s, being flat-chested and straight-hipped (a "boyish" figure), although not necessarily particularly thin, was fashionable. By the late 1980's, this perception had changed, and thin people were considered to be the most appealing. Several researchers have found that the female body depicted in the media has become increasingly thin. Research using bust and hip measurements of Playboy models has shown that between 1960 and 1979, there was a trend towards non-curvaceousness. Fashion in body shape also tracks closely with attitudes about child-bearing: it is less desirable during 'thin' eras and more desirable during 'curvy' eras.

As the ideal body shape for women became thinner, the dissatisfaction that women have with their body shape increased. In recent years, a number of researchers have found that females are more likely to judge themselves overweight than males. This tendency was strongest in adolescent and young adult women.


Relationship to psychological disorders
Poor body images can often contribute to the onset of a variety of eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Other possible effects of the cultural obsession with looking slender include excessive exercising, fad diets, and lawsuits involving fast food chains.

Concerns with body image have been linked to a decrease in self esteem and an increase in dieting among young women. This latter trend has been identified as an indicator of the onset of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Great body dissatisfaction can also lead to Body dimorphic disorders, which cover a range of personality disorders where a person is dissatisfied with one's own body.

On the other hand, having a good body image can be a source of satisfaction to an individual.

Attractiveness and social issues
Some researchers also found that men judge the female figure they found most attractive as heavier than women's ratings of the ideal body shape. In contrast, that most women, including overweight women, desire men with a very low percentage of body fat, whether they be thin or muscular. This suggests that, contrary to the media focus, men are far more likely to be attracted to larger woman than women are to be attracted to larger men.

Additionally, men are also more likely to be unsatisfied with their height, due to a perceived preference in women for men above average height. Men, on the other hand, don't tend to factor height in when choosing a mate; they're attracted to short, tall, and everything in between. According to a study "Gender Differences in Body Dysmorphic Disorder" by Katharine A. Phillips and S. Diaz (1997), the most common body areas that cause the most distress among men with body image disorders include skin (58%), head hair (57%), nose (38%), body build (25%), eyes (18%), genitals (15%), legs (14%), chest (12%), and stomach/abs (11%).


Information on specific minority populations
Most empirical research and statistical data are orientated and tailored toward Caucasian audiences, and some studies have been designed to exclude racially diverse populations. Nonetheless, no race or socioeconomic group should be considered impervious to eating disorders.

Disambiguation issue
There is another technical use of the term "body image," which refers to the association of areas of the motor cortex with the voluntrary movement of body members. This is often shown as the motor homunculus depicted by Dr. Wilder Penfield. This image distorts the body according to the areas of the motor cortex associatied with its movements. For example, it shows the thumb as larger than the thigh because the thumb's movement is much more complex than that of the thigh and thus occupies a larger area of the cortex. The motor homunculus plays a central role in proprioception. This body image is involved in phantom limb phenomena as well as their opposite, as in the case of brain damage resulting in the disappearance of parts of the body from conscious perception.



Food faddism and fad diet are terms which refer to the tendency for idiosyncratic diets and eating patterns. A fad diet is supposed and promoted to improve health but may do nothing at all, or even have the opposite results if it is nutritionally unbalanced and unconfirmed by science.

Food faddism is common in New Age spirituality.

Some of the scientific communities say that food faddism is merely born of ignorance about basic scientific dietary facts.

Diets commonly accused of faddism:

  • Atkins diet
  • Breatharian
  • South Beach Diet



Body fat percentage is the fraction of the total body mass that is adipose tissue. This index is often used as a means to monitor progress during a diet or as a measure of physical fitness for certain sports, such as body building. It is more accurate as a measure of health than body mass index (BMI) since it directly measures body composition and there are separate body fat guidelines for men and women. However, its popularity is less than BMI because most of the techniques used to measure body fat percentage require equipment and skills that are not readily available.

The American Council on Exercise has associated categories with ranges of body fat. Women generally have less muscle mass than men and therefore they have a higher body fat percentage range for each category.




Essential fat















Measurement techniques

Body average density measurement
The most accurate method has been to weigh a person underwater in order to obtain the average density (mass per unit volume). Since fat tissue has a lower density than muscles and bones, it is possible to estimate the fat content. This estimate is distorted by the fact that muscles and bones have different densities: for a person with a more-than-average amount of bone tissue, the estimate will be too low. However, this method gives highly reproducible results for individual persons (+/- 1%), unlike the methods discussed below, which can have an error up to +/-10%.[2] The body fat percentage is commonly calculated from one of two formulas:

Brozek formula: BF = (4.57/p- 4.142) * 100
Siri formula is: BF = (4.95/p - 4.50) *100

In these formulas, p is the body density in kg/L. For a more accurate measurement, the amount of bone tissue must be estimated with a separate procedure. In either case, the body density must be measured with a high accuracy. An error of just 0.2% (e.g. 150 mL of trapped air in the lungs) would make 1% difference in the body fat percentage. The body density is measured by weighing a person underwater, with all air expelled from the lungs. This procedure is normally carried out in laboratories with special equipment. However, it is possible to make an estimation without assistance in a swimming pool. A person who neither floats nor sinks with empty lungs in a swimming pool would have a density of 1 kg/dm3 and an estimated body fat percentage of 43% (Brozek) or 45% (Siri), which would be extremely obese. Persons with a lower body fat percentage would need to hold some kind of floatation device, such as an empty bottle, in order to prevent them from sinking. If the floatation device has mass m and volume v, and the person has a mass M, then his or her density is

\rho = \frac{\rho_w}{1 + m/M - \rho_w v/M},

where Pw is the density of water [0.99780 kg/L at 22 °C (72 °F)]. For example, a person weighing 80 kg needs to hold a floater with a volume of 4.5 L and a mass of 0.5 kg has a density of 1.05 kg/L and hence a body fat percentage of 21%. Note that both the Brozek and Siri formulas are claimed to give systematically too high body fat percentages.  

Skinfold test
A simpler test for measuring body fat is the skinfold test, in which a pinch of skin is precisely measured by calipers at standardized points on the body to determine the thickness of the subcutaneous fat layer, and converted to body fat percentage by an equation.

Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis
This method can be conducted very accurately in the laboratory or at home with a less accurate, though affordable, home scale.

From weight and waist
Less accurate again, but most readily available (e.g. on the internet), are formulae which calculate a percentage from weight, waist measurement and sometimes other measurements. These are widely available on the internet and elsewhere.



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