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Chavez urges Venezuelans to cut calorie intake

By Christopher Toothaker
Associated Press / March 27, 2011

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CARACAS, Venezuela—President Hugo Chavez urged Venezuelans on Sunday to cut their calories to avoid obesity -- the latest lifestyle recommendation by the self-proclaimed socialist crusader.

Chavez has lobbied in recent weeks against what he calls the evils of capitalism, including alcoholism, breast implants and violent television programs.

"Be careful with weight gain!" warned Chavez on Sunday, speaking during his weekly television and radio program. "We are eating better, that's been proven. We're leaving malnutrition behind. It no longer exists in the country, but be careful with obesity."

Chavez -- who often dispenses advice to supporters during his marathon speeches -- said he'd start a campaign to urge Venezuelans to consume less fatty foods and eat in a healthier fashion.

The former paratroop commander has taken issue with doctors who "convince women, many women -- not all of them -- that if they don't have big bosoms, they should feel bad."

Breast enlargement is widely popular in image-conscious Venezuela, where newspapers publish advertisements from clinics offering breast implants on credit and beauty pageant contestants often undergo plastic surgery. In recent years as many as 30,000 women have had the operation annually, according to the nation's Plastic Surgery Society.

Last year, Gustavo Rojas, who ran as an alternate for the National Assembly in Sept. 26 elections, held a raffle to raise cash for his campaign. The grand prize: breast implants.

Chavez frequently rails against capitalism. Since taking office in 1999, he's preached against supposed capitalist-fueled vices ranging from alcohol to cholesterol, vowed to curb whisky imports and ordered beer trucks off the street.

Some Venezuelans were amused when one of Chavez recent commentaries took an interstellar turn last week, when he raised the question of whether capitalism had destroyed life on the planet of Mars.

"Listen up. I've always said that it would not be strange that there was civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism came along, imperialism came along, and destroyed the planet," Chavez said.

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