Obesity has been big news in the past week, from the silly to the serious.
First, "Star Wars" star Carrie Fisher, 54, revealed she's lost 50 pounds in nine months thanks to the Jenny Craig diet plan (for which she is a new spokeswoman).
She went on the "Today" show and told host Ann Curry that her new body made her "want to get into the metal bikini and just walk around the house like an idiot."
Yes, Jabba the Hut fans, that would be the golden metal bikini Fisher as Princess Leia wore in the beginning of the movie "Return of the Jedi."
She said she'd squeeze into it "if a whole bunch of women over 40 come to Yankee Stadium. We'll put everyone in metal bikinis, and we will sit around and laugh and talk about the old days when we ate a lot."
Fisher, who's just over 5 feet tall, weighed 105 pounds when she appeared in the first three "Star Wars" films in the 1970s and 1980s. She eventually ballooned to 180 pounds at her heaviest and is now 130 pounds. At 180, she would have had a body mass index (a measure of body fat based on height and weight) of around 35, definitely in the obese range.
While Fisher is now at a healthier weight, the obesity rate in the country as a whole isn't doing quite so well.
A four-part obesity series last week in the journal The Lancet predicts that if Americans keep gaining weight as they have been, half the adults in the U.S. could be obese by 2030. Currently, about a third of all men and women in the U.S. are obese.
The country's obesity epidemic could mean millions more cases of diabetes and heart disease, which in turn could also mean massive increases in healthcare costs.
However, a new, more realistic rule-of-thumb from researchers at the National Institutes of Health could help people who are overweight realize that even small, daily reductions in calories can lead to weight loss.
The NIH's new mathematical model for weight loss shows that cutting 250 calories a day from your diet can lead to a 25-pound weight loss over three years.
That may not sound like much, but even a 10 percent reduction in weight can make a huge difference, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A 200-pound person who loses 20 pounds will see a drop in blood pressure and a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease. And it can be done by small daily changes -- cutting out soda or sugary drinks, skipping the chips, getting a plain burger instead of one with bacon and cheese, taking a walk.
As Carrie Fisher explained what finally sparked her to slim down -- "I weighed 3 million pounds. I couldn't look in the mirror. I thought that was getting old."
Photo credit: Top, courtesy of carriefisher.com; bottom, courtesy rankopedia.com