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Interesting article on weight loss...

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  • Interesting article on weight loss...

    WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE WAR ON OBESITY
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/st...200549,00.html


    PAUL CAMPOS, GUARDIAN - The doctors and public health officials
    prosecuting the war on fat would have us believe that who is or isn't
    fat is a scientific question that can be answered by consulting
    something as crude as a body mass index chart. This, like so many other
    claims at the heart of the case against fat, is false. "Fat" is a
    cultural construct. According to the public health establishment's
    current BMI definitions, Brad Pitt, Michael Jordan and Mel Gibson are
    all "overweight", while Russell Crowe, George Clooney and baseball star
    Sammy Sosa are all "obese". According to America's fat police, if your
    BMI is over 25, then you are "overweight,” full stop. Note also the
    radical difference between how our culture defines "fashionable"
    thinness for men and women. If Jennifer Aniston had the same BMI as her
    husband Brad Pitt, she would weigh approximately 55 lb more than she
    does.


    A 1999 study published in the Journal of the American Medical
    Association estimated that overweight lead to around 300,000 premature
    deaths per year in America alone. Meanwhile, the proportion of the
    population that maintains a dangerously high weight continues to climb:
    obesity in America has increased by more than 50% over the course of the
    past decade. If the authors of these studies are correct, America is
    facing a health crisis that, in the words of one anti-fat warrior, will
    make Aids look "like a bad case of the flu.”. . .


    This, then, is the case against fat: America, we are told, is on the
    verge of eating itself to death. The core belief of those prosecuting
    this case is that the BMI tables testify to a strong, predictable
    relationship between increasing weight and increasing mortality. That,
    after all, is what most people assume when they read that medical and
    public health authorities have determined a BMI of 25 or above is
    hazardous to a person's health. This belief, however, is not supported
    by the available evidence.


    A 1996 project undertaken by scientists at the National Centre for
    Health Statistics and Cornell University analyzed the data from dozens
    of previous studies, involving a total of more than 600,000 subjects
    with up to a 30-year follow-up. Among non-smoking white men, the lowest
    mortality rate was found among those with a BMI between 23 and 29, which
    means that a large majority of the men who lived longest were
    "overweight" according to government guidelines. The mortality rate for
    white men in the supposedly ideal range of 19 to 21 was the same as that
    for those in the 29 to 31 range (most of whom would be defined now as
    "obese"). In regard to non-smoking white women, the study's conclusions
    were even more striking: the BMI range correlating with the lowest
    mortality rate was extremely broad, from around 18 to 32, meaning a
    woman of average height could weigh anywhere within an 80-pound range
    without seeing any statistically significant change in her risk of
    premature death.


    In almost all large-scale epidemiological studies, little or no
    correlation between weight and health can be found for a large majority
    of the population - and indeed what correlation does exist suggests that
    it is more dangerous to be just a few pounds "underweight" than dozens
    of pounds "overweight. . .


    Most Americans, and indeed most doctors, simply assume that the heavier
    you are, the more likely it is you will suffer from coronary artery
    disease - hence the various clichés about "artery-clogging" fast food
    and the like. Yet several studies have specifically investigated the
    question of whether a high percentage of body fat correlates with the
    incidence of coronary artery disease. Answer: no, it does not. Even
    massively obese men and women do not appear to be more prone to vascular
    disease than average.


    It is true that increasing weight is associated with high blood pressure
    and certain types of heart disease. But even here there is considerable
    evidence that this correlation is not necessarily a product of being
    fat, but rather of losing and then regaining weight. Obese patients who
    have been put on very low-calorie diets subsequently display much higher
    rates of congestive heart failure than equally fat people who did not
    attempt to lose weight in the first place. The biggest evidentiary
    problem for those who insist there is a strong causal link between
    increasing weight and heart disease is that deaths from heart disease
    have been plunging at precisely the same time that obesity rates have
    been skyrocketing. . .


    There are some groups of heavier individuals - usually those with BMI
    figures in the mid-30s and above - who do suffer from worse health than
    those of "ideal-weight". Yet this does not of itself prove that such
    people's problems are caused by their excess weight. There are many
    other factors that disproportionately affect the heaviest people in our
    society, and that also correlate with poor health: most notably a
    sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, dieting-induced weight fluctuation, diet
    drug use, poverty, access to and discrimination in health care, and
    social discrimination generally. None of these factors was taken into
    account in Annual Deaths Attributable To Obesity In The United States,
    the JAMA study responsible for the "fact" that fat kills 300,000
    Americans a year.


    The case against fat proceeds on the assumption that if a fat person
    becomes thin, that person will acquire the health characteristics of
    people who were thin in the first place. Although this assumption may
    seem like simple common sense, it is, like many commonsensical
    assumptions, quite dubious. If a person who is physiologically inclined
    to be fat loses weight, this does not transform that person into someone
    who is physiologically inclined to be thin. To understand the
    implications of this distinction, consider that bald men die sooner, on
    average, than hirsute men, probably because bald men have higher levels
    of testosterone, which appear to lower life expectancy. Given this,
    surely no one would conclude that giving a bald man hair implants would
    improve his prospects for long life.


    No one has ever successfully conducted a study into the effects of
    long-term weight loss, and for a very simple reason: no one knows how to
    turn fat people into thin people. . .


    Over the past 20 years, scientists have gathered a wealth of evidence
    indicating that cardiovascular and metabolic fitness, and the activity
    levels that promote such fitness, are far more important predictors of
    both overall health and mortality risk than weight. Yet none of the
    studies most often cited for the proposition that fat kills makes any
    serious attempt to control for these variables.


    The most extensive work of this sort has been carried out by Steven
    Blair and his colleagues at Dallas's Cooper Institute, involving more
    than 70,000 people. What they have discovered is that, quite simply,
    when researchers take into account the activity levels and resulting
    fitness of the people being studied, body mass appears to have no
    relevance to health whatsoever. In Blair's studies, obese people who
    engage in at least moderate levels of physical activity have around one
    half the mortality rate of sedentary people who maintain supposedly
    ideal weight levels.


    Similarly, a 1999 Cooper Institute study involving 22,000 men found the
    highest death rate among sedentary men with waist measurements under 34
    inches, while the lowest death rate was found among fit men with waist
    measurements of 40 inches or more. A 1995 Blair study found that
    improved fitness (ie, going from "unfit" to "fit"), with the latter
    requiring a level of exercise equivalent to going for a brisk half-hour
    walk four or five times per week, reduced subsequent mortality rates by
    50%. As Blair himself puts it, Americans have "a misdirected obsession
    with weight and weight loss. The focus is all wrong. It's fitness that
    is the key."

    Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be -Clementine Paddleford
  • Original Poster

    #2
    WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE WAR ON OBESITY
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/st...200549,00.html


    PAUL CAMPOS, GUARDIAN - The doctors and public health officials
    prosecuting the war on fat would have us believe that who is or isn't
    fat is a scientific question that can be answered by consulting
    something as crude as a body mass index chart. This, like so many other
    claims at the heart of the case against fat, is false. "Fat" is a
    cultural construct. According to the public health establishment's
    current BMI definitions, Brad Pitt, Michael Jordan and Mel Gibson are
    all "overweight", while Russell Crowe, George Clooney and baseball star
    Sammy Sosa are all "obese". According to America's fat police, if your
    BMI is over 25, then you are "overweight,” full stop. Note also the
    radical difference between how our culture defines "fashionable"
    thinness for men and women. If Jennifer Aniston had the same BMI as her
    husband Brad Pitt, she would weigh approximately 55 lb more than she
    does.


    A 1999 study published in the Journal of the American Medical
    Association estimated that overweight lead to around 300,000 premature
    deaths per year in America alone. Meanwhile, the proportion of the
    population that maintains a dangerously high weight continues to climb:
    obesity in America has increased by more than 50% over the course of the
    past decade. If the authors of these studies are correct, America is
    facing a health crisis that, in the words of one anti-fat warrior, will
    make Aids look "like a bad case of the flu.”. . .


    This, then, is the case against fat: America, we are told, is on the
    verge of eating itself to death. The core belief of those prosecuting
    this case is that the BMI tables testify to a strong, predictable
    relationship between increasing weight and increasing mortality. That,
    after all, is what most people assume when they read that medical and
    public health authorities have determined a BMI of 25 or above is
    hazardous to a person's health. This belief, however, is not supported
    by the available evidence.


    A 1996 project undertaken by scientists at the National Centre for
    Health Statistics and Cornell University analyzed the data from dozens
    of previous studies, involving a total of more than 600,000 subjects
    with up to a 30-year follow-up. Among non-smoking white men, the lowest
    mortality rate was found among those with a BMI between 23 and 29, which
    means that a large majority of the men who lived longest were
    "overweight" according to government guidelines. The mortality rate for
    white men in the supposedly ideal range of 19 to 21 was the same as that
    for those in the 29 to 31 range (most of whom would be defined now as
    "obese"). In regard to non-smoking white women, the study's conclusions
    were even more striking: the BMI range correlating with the lowest
    mortality rate was extremely broad, from around 18 to 32, meaning a
    woman of average height could weigh anywhere within an 80-pound range
    without seeing any statistically significant change in her risk of
    premature death.


    In almost all large-scale epidemiological studies, little or no
    correlation between weight and health can be found for a large majority
    of the population - and indeed what correlation does exist suggests that
    it is more dangerous to be just a few pounds "underweight" than dozens
    of pounds "overweight. . .


    Most Americans, and indeed most doctors, simply assume that the heavier
    you are, the more likely it is you will suffer from coronary artery
    disease - hence the various clichés about "artery-clogging" fast food
    and the like. Yet several studies have specifically investigated the
    question of whether a high percentage of body fat correlates with the
    incidence of coronary artery disease. Answer: no, it does not. Even
    massively obese men and women do not appear to be more prone to vascular
    disease than average.


    It is true that increasing weight is associated with high blood pressure
    and certain types of heart disease. But even here there is considerable
    evidence that this correlation is not necessarily a product of being
    fat, but rather of losing and then regaining weight. Obese patients who
    have been put on very low-calorie diets subsequently display much higher
    rates of congestive heart failure than equally fat people who did not
    attempt to lose weight in the first place. The biggest evidentiary
    problem for those who insist there is a strong causal link between
    increasing weight and heart disease is that deaths from heart disease
    have been plunging at precisely the same time that obesity rates have
    been skyrocketing. . .


    There are some groups of heavier individuals - usually those with BMI
    figures in the mid-30s and above - who do suffer from worse health than
    those of "ideal-weight". Yet this does not of itself prove that such
    people's problems are caused by their excess weight. There are many
    other factors that disproportionately affect the heaviest people in our
    society, and that also correlate with poor health: most notably a
    sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, dieting-induced weight fluctuation, diet
    drug use, poverty, access to and discrimination in health care, and
    social discrimination generally. None of these factors was taken into
    account in Annual Deaths Attributable To Obesity In The United States,
    the JAMA study responsible for the "fact" that fat kills 300,000
    Americans a year.


    The case against fat proceeds on the assumption that if a fat person
    becomes thin, that person will acquire the health characteristics of
    people who were thin in the first place. Although this assumption may
    seem like simple common sense, it is, like many commonsensical
    assumptions, quite dubious. If a person who is physiologically inclined
    to be fat loses weight, this does not transform that person into someone
    who is physiologically inclined to be thin. To understand the
    implications of this distinction, consider that bald men die sooner, on
    average, than hirsute men, probably because bald men have higher levels
    of testosterone, which appear to lower life expectancy. Given this,
    surely no one would conclude that giving a bald man hair implants would
    improve his prospects for long life.


    No one has ever successfully conducted a study into the effects of
    long-term weight loss, and for a very simple reason: no one knows how to
    turn fat people into thin people. . .


    Over the past 20 years, scientists have gathered a wealth of evidence
    indicating that cardiovascular and metabolic fitness, and the activity
    levels that promote such fitness, are far more important predictors of
    both overall health and mortality risk than weight. Yet none of the
    studies most often cited for the proposition that fat kills makes any
    serious attempt to control for these variables.


    The most extensive work of this sort has been carried out by Steven
    Blair and his colleagues at Dallas's Cooper Institute, involving more
    than 70,000 people. What they have discovered is that, quite simply,
    when researchers take into account the activity levels and resulting
    fitness of the people being studied, body mass appears to have no
    relevance to health whatsoever. In Blair's studies, obese people who
    engage in at least moderate levels of physical activity have around one
    half the mortality rate of sedentary people who maintain supposedly
    ideal weight levels.


    Similarly, a 1999 Cooper Institute study involving 22,000 men found the
    highest death rate among sedentary men with waist measurements under 34
    inches, while the lowest death rate was found among fit men with waist
    measurements of 40 inches or more. A 1995 Blair study found that
    improved fitness (ie, going from "unfit" to "fit"), with the latter
    requiring a level of exercise equivalent to going for a brisk half-hour
    walk four or five times per week, reduced subsequent mortality rates by
    50%. As Blair himself puts it, Americans have "a misdirected obsession
    with weight and weight loss. The focus is all wrong. It's fitness that
    is the key."

    Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be -Clementine Paddleford

    Comment


    • #3
      Montanadun,

      Thank you for posting this. I have been saying these things for years. I would have more to say on this subject, but I can not do much typing right now due to a finger injury that is painful. But I'm glad you brought this up--it is a very important topic and relevant to many horse people.

      Founder and president of the No-Legged Rider Clique
      NNBB!!!!
      Snap Dragon's mom.

      Comment


      • #4
        I totally agree with this article. I also hate to see talking heads on TV news talk about "Fat People" and the "Obesity Epedimic" in their glass jar world of million dollar pay checks. I DO feel concern for the number of young people that I see that are overweight. Not so much for their health but for their mental health (which is their health too). I have struggled with my weight my whole life and when I look back at pictures of myself I wasn;t even fat! I was just a little bit bigger than most teens and thought was HUGE. ALot of the kids I see really are large and I feel they have alot of grief ahead of them. One of the main reasons I think that kids are more overwithgt is that no one is at home to plan and cook meals. I know that if I had 2-3 kids and both my husband and I worked that I would never want to cook. We would eat out alot= lots of high calorie meals. I think women are in such a squeeze as they have continued to be the main child caregiver and have also stayed in the work place. Oh yeah, and you are supposed to be thin, keep the house clean, enjoy lots of sex, keep your career on track, have kids (not one that's selfish and cruel to the first child that will be alone), breastfeed, cook meals, keep a great tan, have white teeth and great hair, oh but be scrupulously hairless in all the right places, pay the bills, be social!...

        If James Lipton asked me what God would say to me at the pearly gates... "All your dogs are here waiting on you".
        “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
        ? Rumi






        Comment


        • #5
          Hmmm, an interesting spin on a number of statistics.

          First let's consider the source of this article, shall we? A tabloid!

          Second, it quotes JAMA, an exceptional peer-reviewed journal (paragraph 2, adds credibility) but ignores and does not refute the statements from the JAMA article itself.

          Then in paragraph 4 it "spins" data on the healthiest segments of your average population (non-smoking white people) into some mumbo-jumbo that says nothing, essentially.

          OK, "underweight" vs. "overweight" is just a ridiculous overgeneralization (paragraph 5) because a good portion of "underweight" subjects in large epidemiologic groups are chronically ill (ie, cancer/chemo patients, etc.) Apples and oranges.

          "Cliche's" about artery-clogging foods? CLICHE'S? Are you kidding me? Give me about 11 pages and I can quote you chapter and verse the connections between cholesterol, diet and atherosclerosis. God. "Even massively overweight men and women do not appear to be more prone to vascular disease than average" That's partly because "average" in this day and age is an incredibly *high* incidence, particularly in countries with the "highest" standard of living (read: sedentary, no exercise, high fat diets) And don't even let's mention diabetes, strongly linked with obesity, which is not even a "risk factor" for heart disease anymore...it's so powerful an association that it is considered a "risk equivalent", meaning that if you have diabetes you have the EXACT same risk of dying or other terrible heart complications as someone who's already had a heart attack.

          Paragraph 7 takes a number of disparate "facts" (and I use the term loosely) and tries to make some sort of point. In medical terms this kind of statement is referred to as "true, true, and unrelated". True (in this case) again being very loosely applied. DEATH RATES from MI are indeed going down because of aggressive interventional techniques (stents, etc) but we are NOT winning the war on heart disease by any means. Quite to the contrary--we're saving the people from their 1st MI, but struggling to keep them healthy and prevent the 2nd, 3rd, etc. in the face of rampant diabetes and other horrible things that are, in many cases, related to our terrible lifestyles.

          Paragraph 9, the bit about the hair transplants, is the most pitiful piece of attempted reasoning I have ever seen. This author really needs to go back to the 3rd grade and learn about "cause" and "effect". I'm embarrassed for him, and for anyone who would nod their head after reading this and think "hey, good point". It is a pure bit of wrong-headed nonsense.

          In the end, I *think* the author is trying to make the point that activity is more important than diet. There is some truth in this: it is very well known that (for instance) sedentary "thin" people have a higher incidence of heart attack than active, reasonably fit overweight people. But the hyperbole and pseudoscience does nothing to emphasize this point, and only serves to rile up an uneducated reader. I sincerely hope people consider the source of their "news", especially in cases like this! I'd laugh if it weren't so pitiful...people apparently DO make health decisions based on "information" like this.

          Show me a single species of animal where obese individuals have a survival advantage.

          Edited to add I'm not saying anorectic is the way to look or that today's "norms" of rail-thin individuals are correct, but the BMI is (IMO!) a reasonably good guide to start with and there are indeed risks in being overweight more than a click or two by the BMI scale.
          ---------------------------------------------
          "If you think your hairstyle is more important than your brain, you're probably right." Wear a helmet!
          Pictures!
          Helmet Nazi, Bah Humbug, Mares Rule, Breed Your Own and Michigan cliques!

          [This message was edited by deltawave on Apr. 27, 2004 at 10:14 PM.]

          [This message was edited by deltawave on Apr. 27, 2004 at 10:17 PM.]
          Click here before you buy.

          Comment


          • #6
            <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Show me a single species of animal where obese individuals have a survival advantage.
            <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

            Walruses. Sea lions. Etc.

            Not that it is relevant to the discussion, I just felt like pointing it out.

            One of the lessons of history is that Nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.
            - Will Durant


            One of the lessons of history is that Nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.
            - Will Durant

            Comment


            • #7
              I would comment on this, but the question on the dressage board about what is a DQ? made me so very hungry, so I must go out and buy a Peanut Buster Parfait.....
              Make that 2....

              Comment


              • #8
                The Guardian is a highly respected broadsheet newspaper, not a tabloid.

                Comment


                • #9
                  BMI charts essentially mean nothing -- that's been no secret for a very long time. Other charts have been made that not only take into account height and weight, but also include frame size (which makes a world of difference).

                  Obesity is considered a risk factor for diabetes, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, etc. Obesity drastically (and I mean drastically) increases your risk for orthopedic issues and has been linked to osteoperosis. That decreases the overall quality of life and as you get older makes your ADLs (activities of daily living ) more difficult. It's really not easy getting your horses fed and turned out if you are 30lbs overweight.

                  --------------------------
                  I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest
                  -- John Keats
                  --------------------------
                  I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest
                  -- John Keats

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    P.S. Thank you deltawave for covering the majority of what I had to say. I'm glad someone else read it with scrutiny.

                    --------------------------
                    I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest
                    -- John Keats
                    --------------------------
                    I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest
                    -- John Keats

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I read that to be one more excuse why Americans should feel "ok" about being fat. What a load of ****.

                      Americans are grossly overweight. Probably not the people on this board - who have activties in their lives related to horses. But seeing the majority of people walking around in a mall isn't a pretty sight.

                      i'm not talking 20-30 lbs overweight, i'm talking about people who are 80 lbs overweight, or more. Yuk. They need to watch food and get some exercise.

                      Obesity isn't a disease, its a condition. I wish people would quit using that semantic. Its like you "caught" being fat. No, you got fat because your metabolism wouldn't support your habits of eating and sedentary lifestyle. I know exactly where this extra 20 lbs came from. My desk job, and not working out.

                      Blech. That article is horrible.

                      ________________________
                      *London*Hannah*Kirsche*
                      *Gryphon Bay & foal on the WAY!!!*
                      ________________________
                      *Hannah Bay*Tatabra Kirsche*
                      *Gryphon Bay & Amethyst Bay*

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I am 100 pounds overweight and I ride (large) horses....

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Some of you may find this article interesting. One of my favorites!

                          Taubes, G. 2001. The soft science of dietary fat. Science (Wash DC). 291:2536-2545.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hmmm, walruses, sea lions...I guess you'd include whales on that list, too, but I think there is a difference between "blubber" (insulating fat, a climate/environment adaptation) and just plain FAT fat from overeating. Good point, though!

                            The Guardian is highly respected? That's very sad--have a look at their lead articles! If the piece listed here is any example of their journalists' smarts, I'd say "highly respected" is an undeserved title. This article is so badly done it's laughable.

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                            • #15
                              Yes, "fat" is a social concept. Obese and unhealthy, however are not. I'm not saying obese people are bad, evil creatures, just less healthy than a thinner athletic person. (Thinner chronically ill people are probably not any healthier than obese people.... )

                              For example, an uncle of mine is obese. Morbidly so. He can no longer walk without a walker because his knees and hips are shot. Our joints are just not made to work that hard. He cannot play with children, beause he can't walk more than 30 yards without a rest. Forget running. That's totally out of the question. He's had 3 heart attacks, and a tripple bypass. He is diabetic, and has no family history of diabetes. He has had gastric bypass done, and burst the stiches, or staples or whatever they are, because he refuses to change his eating habbits. That nearly killed him. He is 35 years old. This article is trying to tell me that my uncle is just as healthy as I am. He has almost died 5 times for causes directly related to his weight! (Heart attacks, insulin coma, bursting stomach) While I have only been in the hospital for non-life threatning injuries.

                              Americans are overweight, and looking for excuses to feel better about it. This article gives them an excuse to feel better about their size than they may have before.

                              Predjudice is a poor substitute for thought.

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                              • #16
                                Geez, just where the heck is George Morris when you need him?

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                                • #17
                                  <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by learner:
                                  Geez, just where the heck is George Morris when you need him?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

                                  He is - in all seriousness - recovering from a mild heart attack last week hence him not being at Rolex to watch a few riders who trained with him over the winter ...

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                                  • #18
                                    I just don't get this whole thing. You know if you're overweight or if you're not. If you are, do something about it. If you burn more calories than you take in, you'll lose weight. It's that simple. Don't do fad diets, don't starve yourself, don't give up & eat junk. I cut down on my carbs when I'm feeling blah but as long as I exercise, I can pretty much eat whatever I want in moderation. Exercise + eating sensibly = healthy weight.(Yes, there are exceptions with overactive/underactive thyroids, etc but they're exceptions NOT the rule).

                                    Seems like people are way too interested in quick fixes or justifications. To quote Nike, just do it already!

                                    (PS - This is coming from someone who had some serious eating issues in college. It took me a long time to be this flip about the whole thing but I'm finally here! I also don't step on a scale anymore, I judge my weight by how I feel & how my clothes fit)
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                                    • #19
                                      Gosh, jingling for The George! Hope he's OK!

                                      ---------------------------------------------
                                      "If you think your hairstyle is more important than your brain, you're probably right." Wear a helmet!
                                      Pictures!
                                      Helmet Nazi, Bah Humbug, Mares Rule, Breed Your Own and Michigan cliques!
                                      Click here before you buy.

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                                      • #20
                                        &lt;- to the article

                                        deltawave, thank you.

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