HEALTH

Chávez to Venezuelans: Eat Less

CARACAS, VENEZUELA - DECEMBER 22:  People wait in line to stock up on groceries at a crowded supermarket December 22, 2002 in Caracas, Venezuela. The South American country is in the midst of the twenty-first day of a general strike aimed at toppling the government of President Hugo Chavez.  (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

CARACAS, VENEZUELA - DECEMBER 22: People wait in line to stock up on groceries at a crowded supermarket December 22, 2002 in Caracas, Venezuela. The South American country is in the midst of the twenty-first day of a general strike aimed at toppling the government of President Hugo Chavez. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)  (2002 Getty Images)

President Hugo Chávez urged Venezuelans to eat less in order to avoid obesity.

"Be careful with weight gain!" warned Chávez on Sunday, speaking to Venezuelans 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."

Chávez, a self-proclaimed socialist crusader, often dispenses lifestyle advice to supporters. In recent weeks he has spoken out on what he calls the evils of capitalism, including alcoholism, breast implants and violent television programs.

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.

Chávez 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 Chávez 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," Chávez said.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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