PLEASE NOTE - The following information is meant to be food for thought. Be sure to consult your physician before you act on any advice.

 Fewer than 10% of those who lose weight on a diet keep it off for at least one year.

 According to Nielsen Media Research, the average American woman spends about 30 hours a week watching TV. If you spent that amount of time walking, you could get from New York to San Francisco - and back again - in less than a year.

 According to a study by the Center for Health Studies (Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound in Seattle, WA), patients suffering from back pain who spent less time in bed (and took fewer painkillers) experienced as much relief as those whose doctors prescribed more. In addition, their medical bills were 79% lower.

 According to researchers at the Institute for Aerobic Research in Dallas, cardiovascular disease rates for men and women who are in poor shape are seven to eight times greater than for those who are physically fit.

 According to researchers, non-smokers who are consistently exposed to second hand smoke are 82% more likely to suffer a stroke.

 A University of Wisconsin study found that cigarette smokers are more likely to have age-related hearing loss. Research suggests that this is because smoking can restrict blood flow to the inner ear.

 According to a Louis Harris Poll for Ortho Pharmaceutical, three out of four adults ages 30 to 50 think that they don't look their age. Eighty-four percent of the women surveyed thought they looked younger, versus 69% of the men.

 According to Tom Fahey, Ed.D., professor of exercise physiology at California State University, to relieve side stitches breathe through pursed lips (to increase intrathoracic pressure) or bend slightly forward (to redirect circulation).

 Researchers from the University of Chicago report that a lack of sleep impedes the body's ability to metabolize carbohydrates, increasing the potential for (and severity of) chronic disorders such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

 According to the Fortino Group in Pittsburgh, PA, the average American male will spend roughly three years and 11 months of his life sitting in an easy chair watching TV. Along the way he'll click his remote 104,016 times, bark 17,336 orders to his family, and add about 5.5 inches to his waist.

 According to researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi and Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, obese people treated for sleep disorders lost weight as they gained REM (dream) sleep.

 Researchers from the University of Maryland Medical Center found that hours after subjects consumed a high-fat meal (eggs, sausage, and hash browns) their blood vessels dilated only half as much as usual, restricting blood flow to the heart. However, when they took 1 gram of vitamin C and 800 I.U. of vitamin E (before eating the same meal), their vessels dilated at near normal levels.

 Researchers claim to have identified foods that can make you feel fuller and more satisfied, as well as less likely to binge. These foods include potatoes, steamed fish, oatmeal, oranges, apples, whole-wheat pasta, grilled lean beef, baked beans, grapes, and whole-grain bread. Some experts suggest that a trial period (during which your diet consists of more of these foods) may be worth a try.

 According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, up to 50,000 deaths per year could be prevented if Americans consumed more folic acid. Good sources are leafy greens, bean sprouts, and orange juice.

 According to a Canadian study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, test subjects consumed more food when drinking alcohol, contrary to conventional thinking that people eat less when drinking.

 A study at the University of Washington in Seattle revealed that consuming 5.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per month (equivalent to a four ounce serving of salmon) can reduce one's risk of cardiac arrest by 50%.

 Researchers at Tufts University found that older women oxidized fat at rates comparable to younger women when they practiced "grazing" (consuming smaller meals more frequently throughout the day). Conversely, their fat-oxidization rates decreased after consuming a large meal.

 When British researchers offered a snack to subjects 90 minutes before mealtime, it suppressed their appetites and caused them to consume fewer calories throughout the day. Interestingly, snacking just 30 minutes before a meal had the opposite effect.

 If when you exercise your energy level wanes (and your heart rate soars), you may need more magnesium. In a three month Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center study, when women were put on a magnesium deficient diet (50% of the RDA) their hearts were forced to work significantly harder when exercising. This was true even though their blood magnesium levels showed no sign of deficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 70% of Americans don't get enough magnesium in their diets.

 Our genes may determine whether a diet that is very low in fat decreases our risk of heart disease. In a recent study, almost 70% of men had adverse changes in their blood lipid levels after following a very low-fat diet (fat intake less than 20%). American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 69, No. 3.

 Scientists at the University of California, Riverside discovered that two neurochemicals, glutamate and neuropeptide Y, can increase the urge to eat. Researchers are looking for ways to monitor and control these substances.

 In a study at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, bulimic women increased their food intake by 900 calories a day when their stores of serotonin (a brain chemical that regulates mood, appetite, and impulsivity) were depleted. Severe calorie restriction often causes bingeing because it causes a reduction in serotonin levels.

 A medium bag of popcorn at a typical movie theatre supplies 970 calories and 48 grams of fat!

 To cut calories and feel fuller, say Penn State researchers, eat more "air-filled" food. Their study revealed that people who consumed more of these types of foods (low-fat blended drinks, popcorn, puffed cereals) averaged 100 less calories per meal.

 A recent survey by the weight-loss support group TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) revealed that the average American adult stays on a diet for 1.8 months.

 Researchers at the University of Buffalo found that female soccer players who consumed more fat (35% of their diet) ran about 15% further than those who consumed less (24% and 27%). "This goes against conventional wisdom," says lead study author Peter Horvath, Ph.D., an associate professor of nutrition sciences.

 In a recent study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, mice whose calorie intake was cut in half lived 50% longer than mice on normal diets. "We think moderate calorie restriction will have the same effect on humans," says Tomas Prolla, Ph.D., a professor of medical genetics at the school.

 Can't sleep? Blame it on your parents - and your grandparents - and your great-grandparents. Researchers suspect there's a gene that throws the body clock out-of-whack, causing sleep cycles to act in ways that conflict with societal norms. University of Utah scientists discovered that the gene that causes this syndrome runs in families, challenging notions that night owls simply rise late because it's their choice. According to David Earnest of Texas A&M University, "This is the first time anyone has identified a genetically inherited trait that involves the expression and control of the circadian rhythm in humans." How can something like this keep you from achieving your fitness goals? Well, if you have the "night owl" gene and you train in the morning each day, you're likely to have less energy, which will affect your endurance and strength. Moreover, it's apt to be hard for you to maintain a consistent routine.