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National Nutrition Month (March)

According to the American Dietetic Association, four of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States – coronary heart disease, stroke, some types of cancers and type 2 diabetes – are associated with unhealthful eating patterns. In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control reported the total cost of obesity in the United States estimated to be $117 billion: $61 billion for direct medical costs and $56 billion for indirect costs (disability, work loss and premature death) each year. For diabetes, the estimated cost is $132 billion, with $92 billion on direct medical costs and $40 billion in indirect costs.

More than 35% of U.S. men and women were obese in 2009–2010 and almost 17% of youth were obese in 2009–2010. In every state, more than 15% of adults are obese, and in nine states, over 30% of adults are obese. This information was taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Weight loss is a $43.6 billion industry, with every fad diet and exercise gadget available to anyone at a given price. Does it have to cost that much? Does it have to be that difficult? The answer is no.

The US Department of Agriculture has just released a new nutrition resource called MyPlate. MyPlate was developed as an effort to promote healthy eating to consumers. The MyPlate icon is easy to understand and it helps to promote messages based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The new MyPlate icon builds on a familiar image — a plate — and is accompanied by messages to encourage consumers to make healthy choices. Information about My Plate can be found at www.choosemyplate.gov. Overall general tips include: emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts and keep what you eat low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars. Learn what represents a portion size for each food group, so you can visualize a serving. Plan ahead what you are going to eat and take it with you when you can. If you do not plan, you will be hungry and make a poor quick and convenient nutrition choice.

Always seek the advice of your physician before starting any weight management or exercise program. Know what your health insurance will cover related to preventive health. If you feel you have a chronic illness that would benefit from speaking with a Registered Dietitian (RD), please contact Augusta Health's Outpatient Nutrition Services at 941-4732. Reliable information about nutrition can also be found through the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.

Information provided by Dana H. Breeding, RN Health Educator from Community Wellness, at Augusta Health. To contact her related to the above information, please call 332-4988 or 932-4988.

References:

Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of obesity in the United States, 2009–2010. NCHS data brief, no 82. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. ChooseMyPlate.gov Website. Washington, DC. Frequently Asked Questions. www.choosemyplate.gov . Accessed February 9, 2012.