1. Obese people more likely to be hospitalized

    Play the heavy and you may head for the hospital

    No one wants to be hospitalized -- but millions of people are heading there anyway, whether they know it or not.

    They're eating their way right into the ER.

    We know that people who are fatter tend to be sicker. We know they have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and an early death. And it makes sense that they'd spend more time in the hospital as a result.

    And now, a new study shows how every extra pound ups that risk of being hospitalized -- and if this doesn't give you a direct incentive to lose some weight, I don't know what will.

    It starts with a single point on the BMI chart -- one point beyond normal and into "overweight." That one point, maybe not even noticeable on the waistline, will increase your risk of being hospitalized by 4 percent.

    If you're just a point overweight, it's up to you to decide if you want to live with that risk or drop a few pounds and bring it back down to where it should be. But many people can only dream about being just one point too heavy -- and for them, the increase in risk is even higher, because every point on the BMI chart increases that risk by another 4 percent.

    So if you're five points too heavy, your risk of being hospitalized is 20 percent higher -- not small at all. And if you're 10 points over the line, you're 40 percent more likely to end up in the hospital.

    The study in the International Journal of Obesity didn't find a single reason for all these extra hospitalizations. More like a list of reasons -- and not coincidentally, it's all the diseases and conditions that tag along with obesity, including diabetes, heart disease, chest pain, asthma, and arthritis.

    With two thirds of Americans now overweight or obese, that means a lot of people are going to be hospitalized as some point -- but if there's any good news here, it's that the study points to the easiest way yet to stay out of the hospital: lose the weight.

    Some people can commit to lifestyle changes on their own and bring themselves down to a normal weight. Others need help -- and if that's you, don't be afraid to ask for that help. A holistic doctor like me can provide you with a comprehensive and personalized weight loss plan that will work.

    And for one way NOT to lose weight, keep reading.

  2. Quit smoking -- or die trying?

    Nearly 70 percent of all smokers want to quit -- and half of them have tried and failed over the last year, according to new numbers from the CDC.

    Obviously, it ain't easy.

    But if there's anything worse for you than tobacco, it's when the meds that are supposed to help you kick the habit up your suicide and depression risk instead.

    And researchers say Chantix, the med most commonly given to smokers, has been found to do exactly that -- with one new analysis concluding that it'll boost your odds of suicide or severe depression by a stunning 800 percent.

    Not exactly the type of "quit" you're looking for -- but instead of warning smokers away from the med or even issuing a long-overdue recall for Chantix, the feds are actually defending it.

    In fact, the FDA says its own review of data from two studies finds no difference in hospitalization rates for psychiatric problems. So case closed -- go ahead and take your Chantix, smokers.

    But before you fill that prescription, read the fine print on that reassuring new message from the FDA -- because the agency admits it didn't bother to look at psychiatric incidents that didn't lead to hospitalization.

    In other words, a suicide victim found dead wouldn't count, nor would a seriously depressed person who's never hospitalized (and remember -- many depressed people never seek any help at all).

    You know what's even crazier than the fact that the FDA didn't consider non-hospitalizations? It's that the agency actually has that extra data... and didn't even bother to look at it!

    That's where the new study comes in, because researchers combed the FDA's own Adverse Event Reporting System and found 3,249 reports of serious self-injury or depression linked to anti-smoking products like meds and nicotine gum since 1998.

    Chantix was only on the market four of those 13 years... but was involved in a whopping 2,925 of those cases, or 90 percent of the total.

    Try to explain that one, FDA.

    Other studies have also made the connection between Chantix use and serious behavioral issues -- and not just suicide and depression. One found that Chantix users are 18 times more likely to be involved in violence than people who take other meds.

    Violence, I should point out, also generally doesn't lead to a hospitalization -- although it could certainly end in prison or even death.

    Bottom line here: Quitting smoking is a great goal -- and with the New Year fast approaching (already!), it's the one resolution you should put at the top of your list.

    But do it without meds.

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