At the end of each long day, all we want is a warm comfortable bed and a fine down comforter is one essential item to make it available. However, when you search for the best down comforter , it may be much confusing than you can imagine because of the vast variety of forms, sizes and prices. Here are some advices to choose the down comforter you need. down-comforter1

1. Understand the warmth levels

In the winter, every degree is a big difference and a right warm comforter helps you save money on the heating bill. In the seasons when it is warmer, you would not want to have a wrong choice to fall in the situation where neither sleeping with nor without the comforter is pleasant. Thus, understanding the warmth levels and know which suits your needs is really important. In general, there are six levels to consider.

• Down blanket
This means the comforter is just as warm as a normal blanket. Of course we are not looking for a blanket because a comforter is far cozier.

• Summer comforter
A down comforter of this warmth level is as warm as a thick blanket.It is fitting to a warm bedroom in most seasons.

• Warmth level 1
This level is equivalent to the warmth of 2 thick blankets. The suitable time for this level is from autumn to spring.

• Warmth level 2
It is the warthm of 3 thick blankets for cool bedrooms.

• Warmth level 3
Comforters of this warthm level are made to use in winter or when it is cold.

• Warmth level 4
When you sleep unheatedly in a really cold time, you will need a comforter of this level.

2. Pick the right size

The best comforter for yourself must cover all of you but is not too unnecessarily big. You should not buy any comforter of the wrong size just because it is on sale. If you do not understand the terms for bed size, you can check this chart


3. Get your favourite fabric quality

Everyone have their prefered fabric quality so take your time until you find the right down comforter for yourself. The four common qualities are bastile, sateen, damask and cambric. You can check this glossary on to know more about the qualities.

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4. Know the fill power

How much space of the comforter for 1 ounce of filling to take is called fill power. A comforter with high fill power provides more lofts and fluff. Normally, a fine comforter has a fill power of 600 ore more.

5. Take comforter with baffle-box constructions

Baffles are strips separating the pockets of down to make sure the down allocated throughout the comforter. With the constructions, the comforter will not be clumped and shifted.


6. Choose the fill

The fill of a comforter contributes to the determination of its weight, fill powers and price. Some popular kinds of down fill that you will come across are 600 US White Duck, 600 US White Goose, 700, 800, 900 and 1000 European White Goose. The most expensive one is called Rare Eiderdown. Some people are allergic to down fill but nowadays many manufactures put their products through a washing process to make them allergy free.

Obesity: what’s the genetic connection?

Experts believe that genetics account for about 25% to 40% of the tendency to be overweight. Information is provided about the ‘fat gene‘ and about why people who have lost significant amounts of weight tend to gain it back.

fat-gene“Let’s face it, Sharon. We’re doomed!”

Sharon looked at the lineup of old photos on the top of her grandmother’s mantle and worried that her cousin might be right. Sharon resembled many of Grandma’s deceased female relatives–at least facially–although she wasn’t as heavy as most of them. And for Sharon, the battle against obesity had never been easy. She exercised and ate sensibly, but it was always a struggle to keep a Healthy weight. Were her genes really her biggest enemy in the fight against fat?

Too Much Fat–Not Mirrors, But Measures

When it comes to body fat, how much is too much? First of all, mirrors and old photos are not the best yardstick. In fact, in some illnesses, facial swelling can cause an illusion of obesity by producing a chubby face on a very skinny body. For the true verdict on body fat, health experts use measurements.

The first of these, tables of weight and height (sometimes with age included) are used to arrive at healthy body weight. “Healthy” on these tables is determined by statisticians who compared the lifespan, health history, and body weight of thousands of people. According to these tables, anyone who weighs 20 percent or more above the “healthy” weight for his or her height and sex is considered to be overweight.

Body mass index (BMI), another indicator based on weight and height, is a second way to determine obesity. BMI is calculated by the weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of the height (in meters). According to health experts, a BMI above 30 (some argue for 27) is a sign of obesity. These figures are for adults.

In fully mature bodies, a third measure, the waist circumference, is used. A waist circumference more than 35 inches in a woman or 40 inches in a man usually means a high risk of weight-related problems.

But no matter what the yardstick for obesity, the bottom line is not numbers but health. Obesity is a serious risk factor for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and gallstones. It’s also been linked to colorectal cancer, to prostate cancer in men, and to cancers of the breast, uterus, and ovaries in women. Health experts estimate that 22 percent of today’s children and adolescents are overweight–an increase of 15 percent from the 1970s. So in spite of media hype about fitness, exercise, and healthy eating, today’s teens are actually heavier than their parents.

Does Fat Run in Families?

For the body, a little bit of body fat is like money saved for a rainy day–it’s stored energy designed to be tapped when times are hard and food is scarce. For our ancestors, storing fat quickly and efficiently may actually have given them a survival advantage over their skinny neighbors in times of poor harvest or plague. But are there really genes that make some human bodies fat-storing aces, or is storing fat a function of behavior?

For centuries, people have guessed that having large amounts of body fat might run in families. When scientists actually began to examine the evidence, they started with studies of identical twins, pairs of people born with exactly the same genes. These twin studies confirmed what families had guessed all along: Identical twins who were fed the same number of extra calories gained the same amount of weight, and their bodies deposited fat in roughly the same places. These, together with other family-based weight studies, lead experts to believe that genes account for 25 percent to 40 percent of the tendency to be overweight.

A Fat Gene

1But where is the fat gene, and how does it work? Can we change it, or maybe modify the body blueprints it contains?

Right now scientists are looking at several candidates for the “fat gene.” One, called Ob (for Obesity), was first discovered in mice who were bred to be genetically obese. Researchers later found a similar gene in humans. The Ob gene apparently contains the inherited directions for a protein called leptin that fat cells secrete into the blood. When this protein enters the blood, it travels to the brain where it shuts off the body’s appetite centers and helps a person stop eating. When the Ob gene is normal, this shut-off mechanism works just fine, but when the Ob gene is missing or defective, the brain doesn’t get the signal that enough is enough.

Although finding the Ob gene is an exciting breakthrough, is it the whole story? Probably not. Most overweight people have appropriate levels of leptin, suggesting that leptin deficiency is not the cause of their obesity. Another gene, one that codes for an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL) has also drawn the attention of obesity researchers. LPL is an enzyme that is produced by fat cells to store calories as fat. If there is too much LPL, fat storage is increased. Perhaps the LPL gene that regulates LPL will hold the answer to why some of us store more fat than others.

It Keeps Coming Back!

Health experts know that most people put back the weight they’ve lost. If genes account for only 25 percent to 40 percent of the reason why this happens, what other factors are to blame?

First of all, psychological factors, including the way that families deal with food issues, help to determine the role that food plays in our life. Children often learn to see cookies, candy, and other treats as rewards, or as ways to deal with stress or unhappiness. These unhealthy eating patterns, begun in childhood, can persist into adulthood. Unlearning these pattern–is substituting a hot bath or a long walk for a dish of ice cream–is part of the solution to obesity for many people.

Physical activity is another key. Researchers know that it’s not just our genes and our diet that make us obese; it’s the sedentary lifestyle that most of us are trapped in. Today’s teens’ parents, who were lighter as teens, didn’t have PCs and video games.

The Skinny on Fat

Obesity-GeneIf you have health concerns about obesity, check with the experts. Congress authorized the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to set up the WIN Network (Weight-control Information Network) to help all Americans get the skinny on fat absolutely free.

Fat Facts

* About one-third of American adults are overweight.

* Mississippi has the highest percentage of overweight residents (32%); Arizona has the lowest (20%).

* There has been an 8% increase in the number of overweight Americans over the last decade.

Focus on Females

* Girls accumulate the most body fat during their early teens. This is part of the body’s natural preparation for pregnancy and breast-feeding during the reproductive years.

* Girls who use dangerous diets to fight fat to the extreme may risk losing bone mass, may stop having regular menstrual periods, and may trigger lifethreatening nutritional problems.

Diet–What’s “Healthy” Anyway?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only 1 percent of teens eat a healthy diet.

A healthy diet should in Jude daily:

11 servings of grain
3-5 servings of vegetables
2-4 servings of fruit
2-3 servings of dairy products
2-3 servings of fish, meat, poultry, other proteins

The National Cholesterol Education Program suggests that a healthy diet means no more than 30 percent of calories from fats (no more than 10% from saturated fats). According to Department of Agriculture figures, U.S. teens currently get 40 percent of their daily calories from fats and added sugars.


How to tip the scales in favor of health and happiness

do-i-need-to-lose-weight“DO I NEED TO lose weight?” All too often the answer to that question is inspired by ultraskinny fashion models. Or by a nostalgic yearning to weigh what we weighed in high school. Or by an arbitrary number on a weight chart.

Instead, I feel the best way to decide if you’re at an ideal weight is to determine, first, whether you’re at a healthy weight. Carrying too much fat can lead to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and osteoarthritis. It’s also been linked to some forms of cancer, as well as early death. And second, determine whether you’re at a happy weight, one you can easily maintain.


For much of this century, the “scientific” way to determine your ideal weight was to consult the Metropolitan Life Insurance charts. These famous charts are based on heights, weights and death rates of millions of life-insurance subscribers. To use them, you look up the recommended weight for your height, sex and “frame size.” (The charts inevitably set people to wondering: “Do I have a small frame? Medium? Large?”)

The problem with these tables, scientists now acknowledge, is that ideal weights are not constant throughout a life span, as the data imply. So the charts’ “ideal” weights for adults may be too low.

Now there are new standards to set our scales by. The National Research Council’s executive summary Diet and Health, three years in the making and released early this year, is one of several that synthesize new findings on excess weight and health. The NRC recommendations are based on heights, weights and mortality of many millions of people in different walks of life–far more numerous and varied than the life-insurance data. Some of their conclusions are: It is likely you can weigh more than you think you can without incurring increased health risks.

Your healthy weight increases with age. In other words, a weight that is associated with increased health risk for a 25-year-old might be fine for a 55-year-old of the same height.  How risky your weight is depends not just on how much you carry, but where you carry it. For reasons that scientists don’t fully understand, excess upper-body fat (abdomen, arms, chest, neck) is associated with more health risks than lower-body fat (buttocks, thighs and down).


Based on this information, I use a fairly simple method to help determine if someone needs to diet. If you think you are carrying excess weight, answer the following questions:

  1. Do you feel healthy and energetic, and do you exercise for at least 20 minutes a day (walking, swimming, stair climbing or other) without fatigue?
  2. Do you and your immediate blood relatives have no history of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis or liver disease? Do you show no risk markers for these diseases, such as high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, abnormal blood sugar?
  3. Do you carry most of your excess weight on your thighs and buttocks (and not much extra fat on you abdomen, arms and/or chest)?
  4. Answer this question only if you were not overweight in high school. Take your high school weight and add five pounds to that number for every decade of your age past age 20. Is your current weight less than or equal to that number?

If you answered “Yes” to every question, then chances are, your weight is a healthy one for you. You’re active and energetic; you don’t have genetic risks or health problems related to excess weight; your fat is in the safer, lower zone of the body; and the amount of weight you’ve gained over the years really isn’t very significant.

(It’s fine to gain moderate amounts of weight as you age–about five pounds per decade. In other words, if you weighed 135 as a teenager and you were not obese, then 140 is fine when you’re 30, 145 when you’re 40, 150 when you’re 50, 155 when you’re 60, and so forth.)

But if you suspect you’re overweight and you answered “No” to one or more of these questions, it is likely you need to lose some weight. Check with your doctor for confirmation.


Trouble is, there’s sometimes a difference between your healthy weight and what I call your happy weight–your set point–the weight your body wants to maintain. The set point is determined by many factors: your diet, your activity level and your genes.

dietIf you’ve been at your current weight plus or minus five pounds for the last two years, that’s your set point. If you are healthy (you answered “Yes” to all the questions above), then your set point is also your healthy weight and I would not recommend going on a diet.

But what if your set point puts you at risk? Your body will make you very unhappy indeed when you try to go lower than the set point. It will punish you with hunger if you don’t eat enough to maintain that weight; it will slow your metabolism, so it’s more difficult to lose weight. What can you do?

Plan a healthy, low-fat diet with a moderate number of calories; don’t go under 1,200 a day. Focus on cutting the fats out of your diet. When you cut the fat, the calories descend by themselves, particularly if you’re on a regular exercise program.

Stay on the diet for six to eight weeks. During this time, you should lose about 10 to 20 pounds, or around 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. Then, spend the next three to six months on maintenance. Exercise, eat right (a low-fat, high-fiber diet with five servings of fruits and vegetables a day) and stay at your diet of not less than 1,200 calories per day.

The good news: In my view, most people don’t need to lose more than 5 to 15 percent of their current weight in a single year to achieve significant health benefits, so you may not have to lose any more weight after the first round.

After the maintenance period, if you still need to lose more, start dieting again and stick with it for another six to eight weeks. Then maintain by resuming your low-fat, high-fiber diet.

Losing the weight in steps makes it easier to adjust the set point and more likely you’ll succeed than if you drop it in one fell swoop.

If you get to the point where you can’t lose any more, and your doctor agrees that you’re no longer at an increased health risk, just stay there. That is the weight your body wants. To lose more, you’d have to limit more strictly your food intake, and exercise even more. The risk: You may not succeed, which would hurt your self-esteem. Or you could gain back excess weight, and when people gain after dieting, the fat often piles up in unhealthier locations (the upper body). Also, it’s healthier to be a little plump than to yo-yo up and down.

Above all, don’t focus on the scale. Work on eating a low-fat diet and staying active, and the weight should take care of itself. That’s the best way to make sure your healthy weight is also your happy weight!

Just your average soccer mom

When my son is on the field, we all, however briefly, escape the “special needs” label.

The gift-shop owner is annoyed. From behind her counter she frowns at my 6-year-old son, who is calmly surveying the broken glass at his feet. Along with a puddle of glittery fluid and some tiny figurines, the shards are all that are left of the snow globe–shiny! irresistible!–he had snatched from its shelf a moment earlier.

“That’s my new carpeting,” the shop owner says accusingly.

“He couldn’t help it,” I blurt. “He’s autistic.” The word–the betrayal–is barely out when I feel a clutching sensation in my chest. It worsens as the shopkeeper tells me I need pay only the wholesale price for the breakage, since, as she puts it, “You have enough to deal with.”

Outside, I squeeze my son’s hand and wish I could apologize to him. He wouldn’t understand, but my daughter, who is shopping with us, does. “It’s the lady’s fault,” she says, with a third-grader’s fierce certainty. “If she hadn’t stood there talking to her friend for ten minutes instead of waiting on us, he wouldn’t have broken anything.”

She’s right. My son got fidgety, and I overreacted, violating my own rule against naming his disability for strangers. I had sold him out for the price of a snow globe.


My son is now 9, but the gift-shop incident still flares in my memory, especially when the issue of labeling him–the need to play what you might call the disability card–arises. This fall, I registered him for soccer and explicitly identified him as a “special needs” child. I had to, if I wanted him to participate in a mainstream league. “Mainstream,” of course, is common parlance for “normal.” It signifies the routine round of school and homework, sleepovers and music lessons. And soccer. For children like my son, going mainstream successfully–“passing,” as a fellow mom of an autistic child calls it–can be tantamount to leapfrogging up Everest.

In the six years since my son was diagnosed, I have concluded that labeling a child who has disabilities is a simultaneously necessary and lazy act. You must identify “deficits” (a terrible word) in order to treat them.

And yet, if supplying the name for my son’s behavior makes my life easier, even nobler–people nod sympathetically–it also diminishes his humanity. Once the A-word is applied, he devolves, before my eyes, from an extraordinarily attractive child, who loves music and silly puns and his big sister, into The Other.

Our soccer season kicks off when a friend tells me about a league that is welcoming to disabled kids. The first official I call, a parent volunteer, instructs me to check in with the special-needs coordinator. I weigh how much information to give this unknown person. In my son’s short life, I have spun out his story for at least a dozen specialists, not counting the school district’s diagnosticians. Isn’t that enough? But I take the plunge, sort of. I tell her he has PDD.

“I’ve never heard of that,” the coordinator says.

“Pervasive Developmental Disorder.” A silence. “Well, autism. Sometimes he’s not very focused, and”–I reach for a familiar symptom –“he’s kind of hyper.”

“That sounds all right,” she says briskly. “We’ll play him down a year. That’s what my child does. She has Down’s syndrome. She’s played for two years now, and she loves it.”

I ask if she accompanies her daughter onto the field, as a sort of personal helper, but she politely brushes me off.

“I cheer for all of them,” she says simply, refusing to expose her child to my scrutiny.

“Good for you,” I say enthusiastically. “It sounds great.”

On the first day of practice, my husband, my son, and I leave the house an hour early. We had raced to finish work and dispatch our daughter to gymnastics practice. Now we are crawling through 20 miles of rush-hour traffic.

“We could have tried the YMCA league,” my husband reminds me. “Ten minutes from the house.”

“It will be fine,” I say. I have decided that long-distance soccer has its benefits. We are unlikely to bump up against anyone who knows us. I will not encounter the parent who, watching my son and his classmates in a school activity, stage-whispered to his own boy, “THAT’S THE SPECIAL EDUCATION CLASS.” To everyone but the special-needs coordinator and our coach, who has been put in the picture, my son is a blank slate. Perhaps–the irrational thought flutters up–he will pass.

Interestingly, the tendency to equate “special” with “the other” also colors the attitudes of some autism experts. But maybe this is not surprising, given the professionals’ track record in treating the disorder. Well into the 1960s, most people, even the “experts,” heeded psychologist Bruno Bettelheim’s now-famous dictum that, by withholding affection from their children, “refrigerator mothers” caused autism. In the 1970s and early 1980s, psychologists advised parents to institutionalize their young autistic children and never look back.

At the turn of the millennium, the institutionalization rate has dropped drastically. Treatments are more effective, the number of research studies has multiplied, and celebrities with autistic kids have raised awareness of the disorder. And yet, nobody knows what causes autism or has come up with a consistent cure. The frustration factor–disavowal of the patient who cannot be helped–may explain why some professionals continue to distinguish between “human being” and “autistic.”

In my least favorite article, a young medical student writes gushily about encountering autism for the first time, in a 4-year-old child. When the little boy recoils from a doctor’s stethoscope, she takes it as proof that he is a species of space alien: “The little boy began to moan–no, not moan exactly. It was … a sound I have never heard come from a child.” She had also never heard that autism is a spectrum disorder (meaning it can range from mild to severe), that early intervention is crucial, and that many small children, normal as she, are afraid of the doctor. The Journal of the American Medical Association published her essay anyway.

As we slowly progress along the freeway, I turn toward the back seat. “So, are you ready to play soccer?”


“I am all ready,” my son says. Unlike most of his activities, we haven’t talked this up too much. We haven’t had to. Last night, he tried on his shin pads. They fit, he loved them, and, delighted, he wanted to wear them to bed. I can’t remember whether it happened when I was driving him to speech therapy, or occupational therapy, or music therapy, or the special private school he currently attends, but one day, out of nowhere, he said, “I want to play soccer like my sister.”

So here we are.


The soccer field abuts a Houston Community College building that is closed for renovations. It features hard-packed dirt and sparse grass, the result of a scorching summer and rainless fall. Somehow, though, Houston’s mosquitoes have survived the drought–and are hungry.

We search the crowd of arriving kids and families for our coach, who is easy to spot in his red shirt. The name of a sports bar adorns the back. He greets us a bit brusquely, and I devise a new worry: Will our son respond to him? Obediently enough, our child lines up with a gaggle of other little boys for a kicking drill. The parents hang around, watching and slapping at their ankles. I find the most anxious-looking mom and introduce myself.

“I hope this is going to be okay,” she confesses to me. “Alex has never played soccer before.”

“My son never has either,” I say conspiratorially. We watch Alex race up to the ball and kick it in a long, high arc, like a miniature Pele.

“Attaway, Alex,” his mom calls. “Good job,” I echo dutifully, realizing that she and I are not in the same boat after all.

According to the rules of our league, all parents must exhibit positive, affirming behavior. You cannot scream advice to your child (as the Parent Manual points out, directives like “Kick it! Kick it!” are “obvious”); you cannot bawl out criticism.

Impeccable in theory, the Parent Manual has the practical effect of a gag order. Well into the season, we grown-ups sit timidly on the sidelines for fear of hollering the wrong thing. Yet none of the boys seem to miss the roar of parental voices, and the calm is certainly beneficial for my son, who always recoils from cacophony.

At this first practice, he manages to attempt the drills about half the time, but by the end of the session he is tired. He begins to ignore directions, to withdraw into himself.

The coach is patient but clearly a bit puzzled. I suspect the explanatory note he received from the special-needs coordinator was pretty vague. I also sense that his brusqueness, expressed in a growly voice that most of the boys heed immediately, is really a form of shyness.

Gamely, the coach ensures that our son tries out every skill. In his own instinctive way, he is as effective as any therapist we have visited. Half seriously, I consider asking him to record a series of edicts–“Time to get dressed!” “Brush your teeth now!” “Let’s start on your math homework!”–that we can pop into our son’s cassette player at home.

Back in the car, at the start of the long drive home, we ask our son if he had a good time. Does he like soccer?

“Yes,” he declares emphatically, as if, like those silly parents in the manual, we have just said something obvious.

Soccer games in general tend to run together for me, especially when played by young children. In my son’s league, keeping score is prohibited, so you can’t even sort their weekly outings into “won” and “lost.” Despite this rule, the boys on my son’s team are well aware that, on most Saturdays, they score more goals than their opponents. The name they bestowed on themselves–the Hotshots–has proved apropos.

My husband believes that success breeds tolerance; it helps the Hotshots ignore our son’s obliviousness to the team effort. I don’t think it matters. With 7-year-olds, there is little team effort. All the children try to control the ball, all of the time. Sometimes it rolls out of the tight scrum of frantically waving feet over to our child, who is hanging back from the action, and he gets in a tentative kick. Sometimes he aims for the right goal. Overall he does better at practices, which are more structured than competition. Slowly he learns to trap the ball, dribble it, kick it into the net. My husband and I agree that soccer has improved his gross motor skills, happily ignoring our resolution to avoid treating it as a therapeutic exercise.

Like the coach, the Hotshots don’t quite understand the nature of my son’s disability, but they come to accept him. During practice scrimmages they occasionally form a motionless semicircle, patiently giving him open access to the ball. At one game, a teammate insists that it is my son’s turn to be team captain (this honor consists of wearing a sticker that says “Team Captain”). So far as I can tell, no adult has suggested these gestures, at least not within earshot of my son, and I am grateful.

The parents’ reactions are similarly low-key. It could be the influence of the Parent Manual (“It Is True INCLUSION When ALL Kids Can Play TOGETHER”). Or maybe they have their own problems to deal with. The families on this team are less affluent than many in our neighborhood. They include immigrants, single parents, and stepparents, and everyone works full-time. When my son’s foot touches the ball, they cheer, in an acceptably restrained way. No one ever draws me aside–like the Good Samaritan in a music class he’d once taken–to suggest, gently, that his development seems delayed and have I consulted my pediatrician? For this reason alone, the soccer experiment has been a resounding success. And my son has loved playing the game, or rather, the idea of playing it, of wearing the uniform just like all the other kids.

When the clock runs out on the last game of the season, we fold up our lawn chairs and set off for the league party at one of those “family-oriented” pizza places where the cheap food is a Vegas-like stratagem for luring kids into playing the video games. When the Hotshots straggle in, four or five other teams have already arrived. Our coach emerges from the buffet line. My husband and I congratulate him on a great season, and he beams at us. “I don’t suppose you’re coaching in the spring?” I ask casually.

“No, I do T-ball in the spring.”

“That must be fun,” I say insincerely.

After the party ends, we load our children–with our son’s trophy and our daughter’s vending-machine prizes–into the car and turn onto the freeway access road. It’s the last time we’ll make this drive on a Saturday, I think, and I begin counting how many new hours have been added to the week. Five, at a minimum. Oh, luxury.

A voice from the back seat interrupts my calculations.

“When do I start playing soccer again?” my son asks.