March 25, 2009

Syndrome W: What Your Weight and Your Waist May Be Trying to Tell You Mid-life comes with so many wonderful surprises: irregular periods, hot-flashes, mood swings and, oh yes let's not forget, that gradually increasing waistline. We write it off as just another side-effect of changing hormone levels and, as we struggle to zip up our jeans, we shake our heads and sigh. It's just what we women have to put up with . . . or is it? It turns out that our increasing girth despite exercise and healthy eating may be a sign of an underlying problem Apllesandtape called Syndrome W. Now if you've become a couch potato and your loading up on the chips and salsa or ice cream sandwiches after the kids go to bed, Syndrome W is probably not your problem. But, if you have kept yourself in shape, exercised regularly and ate right and you have still, mysteriously, seen your weight increasing, your waist-line growing and your energy level bottoming out, then this is something you might need to look into. Harriette Mogul, the director of research of adult endocrinology at New York Medical College, discovered that many normally slim and fit women were coming to her and presenting with slightly elevated blood pressure, unexplained weight gain and fatigue. Thinking that their shifting hormone levels were to blame, they were looking for hormone supplementation. All of these women had normal blood sugar levels, but Dr. Mogul thought to look where others had not. Glucose tests are very common and once the results come up normal, the idea of blood sugar issues is often disregarded, but Dr. Mogul decided that insulin levels also deserved a look. What she found is that many of these women had normal glucose levels but elevated insulin levels.
The First Elected Female President? In the United States, we are still awaiting the day when we can celebrate the election of a woman to the presidency, but for the country of Liberia, the wait is over. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a 67 year-old, Harvard educated economist, is the first female to be elected president in the history of Liberia. For her, and much of the rest of Liberia's female population, the change to female leadership was long overdue. Global map Staggering unemployment and crumbling infrastructure due to a civil war lasting more than a decade are the legacy left to Sirleaf. With unemployment at 85%, electricity distribution problems and only 1 textbook for every 27 children, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf certainly has her work cut out for her. But she, and the many women who helped to elect her, have nothing but confidence in her ability to rise to these many challenges. In the period of over 160 years in which Liberia has had independence, men have ruled and, in the words of many of the women they "have failed us." Sirleaf adds that the male leadership "either by commission or omission enabled these wars" that have led to the devastation of their West African nation and that what the women of Liberia said clearly in the last election was that "now is the time for change." And change has come. Half-way into her first term as president, Sirleaf has rebuilt the army, taken on corruption and begun to rebuild the infrastructure. It remains to be seen just how much more can be accomplished under this powerful woman's command. For more, watch the introductory four-minute video and check the WorldFocus website for an upcoming four-part series on Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Lori Jewett

I'm an overly educated stay-at-home mom with two kids and the need for adult conversation.

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