Starting with Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 24, the official season for overindulging our appetites began.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, people will be going from one party to another, munching and drinking their way through the holiday season. And that doesn't include the big family dinners that are as much a part of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's as gifts, mistletoe and wishes for a happy new year.
But before getting carried away, everyone ought to think about showing a little restraint. After all, we have nothing to lose but our waist lines, and millions of Americans can stand to take a little off their waste lines.
According to the most extreme numbers, two-thirds of Americans are overweight and more than 30 percent of them are obese. Those figures, however, may be a little high because they're determined by a tough measurement standard known as body mass index.
The method of computing body mass index was revised seven years ago, and the stricter formula instantly created millions of people newly deemed to be overweight.
The BMI is computed by taking a person's weight in pounds and dividing it by a person's height in inches squared. That number is then divided by 703. An individual with a BMI in excess 25 is considered to be overweight.
Before the formula was revised, the BMI threshold for being overweight was 27.8 for men and 27.3 for women.
Naturally, a formula that general is subject to criticism. For instance, a musclebound NFL running back could be labeled obese by the BMI formula, and everyone knows there are no obese running backs in the NFL.
Still, despite the flaws in the BMI formula, it sends a useful message of restraint to those who fall on the wrong side of the chart, and the message ought to be heeded at this time of the year when people are surrounded by temptations.
Film star Mae West used to joke that too much of a good thing is wonderful, and it may be in some cases. But that's not the case when it comes to food and drink. Take it easy.