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There will be no jelly doughnuts or potato pancakes for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon this Hanukka, which begins on Sunday night. The 170-centimeter-tall premier, whose weight of 142 kilograms has recently been revealed, should ideally weigh a little more than half that figure.
Sharon's body-mass index (calculated by dividing one's weight in kilos by the square of one's height in meters) is a gargantuan 49. A normal BMI is between 20 and 25, overweight is between 26 and 30 and obesity is everything over that.
After his mild stroke earlier this week, Sharon's doctors have told him to change his diet, lose weight and alter his lifestyle, and his daughter-in-law - who supervises the household - is determined to carry out their orders. Although the prime minister's aides pooh-poohed their boss's willingness to forgo his beloved fatty meat and other calorie-rich foods, when President Moshe Katsav and his wife Gila visited him in his Jerusalem residence on Wednesday, he didn't touch the cookies provided or even taste the walnut-filled dates that the First Lady brought him.
But Sharon is not the only one who has to be careful on Hanukka, the joyous Jewish festival best known for its oily food: Most Israelis have to control themselves when tempted by doughnuts, which contain 400 calories apiece or more, depending on the toppings and fillings and whether they have a hole in the middle.
Dr. Sarah Kaplan, the chief dietitian of Kupat Holim Meuhedet, notes that doughnuts have almost no nutritional value as they are composed almost entirely of simple carbohydrates (flour and sugar), cholesterol from eggs and more sugar from fillings such as jam or chocolate. So just a little bite is enough to enjoy the holiday.