3/10/08- 3/14/08


Friday, March 14, 2008

Wellness Challenge – Guest Blogger

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(Editor’s Note: Today’s guest blog is from an LSU AgCenter employee who took advantage of the opportunity to have a blood screening at an employee meeting and found some surprising results.)

Dr. Richardson: Having been a healthy, somewhat active person, with no weight issues or health problems, I thought I was a healthy person. However, when I attended the regional meeting at the Red River Research Station (in Bossier City) on March 12 to learn more about the Wellness Challenge, I took advantage of the blood glucose and cholesterol screening that was offered that morning. I was very surprised (as were my coworkers) to find out that I had the highest cholesterol level of everyone tested that day! What a shock and a realization that I needed to address this now! I've already started looking differently at my food choices, my activity level and my family history, and what I need to do to take care of myself! Also, our Webster Parish staff has already begun plans to take the Wellness Challenge! Thank you for your encouragement and serving as a role model that we can achieve our goals for better health

Lisa Holmes


Thursday, March 13, 2008

March is National Nutrition Month

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Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared March as Nutritional Nutrition Month in Louisiana just as it is for the whole country. We had already mentioned that March was National Nutrition Month as declared by the American Diabetic Association. I asked each of you in yesterday’s blog to give a little, only a drop, but give nonetheless. As a state we still lag behind other states in healthy lifestyles. Our obesity rate places us near the top, and we are labeled a fat state. Our incidence of diabetes also places us at the top of the list. We must come to grips with this, and use occasions such as National Nutrition Month to broaden the awareness of nutrition among our population.

It is interesting to note that after five months of blogging about nutrition and exercise, I feel as though many of the things I talk about are settling in and taking hold of my lifestyle. For instance, without a lot of thought I made some smart choices last night at a social dinner. No dessert, no bread and selection of an entrée of grilled chicken breast and sautéed vegetables. Nothing special but far different from what I might have ordered months ago. If we are to make lifestyle changes, and as I’ve mentioned to you as recently as yesterday, we must think long-term. The changes have to be ingrained into a long-term plan. 

Unlike other addictions, we cannot go cold turkey and just stop eating. We have to manage our nutrition and make smart choices in eating whether at home or out. Not every day will be perfect, and every day will be a challenge. We live in an abundant society filled with an abundant food supply. Our challenge is to make smart choices. 

The weekend is almost here, and like many of you, sometimes I get a chance to get a little extra sleep. Tomorrow we are going to explore sleep.

Bill Richardson

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Change drop-by-drop

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The LSU AgCenter has been holding a series of meetings around the state to discuss employee wellness issues. As I make presentations concerning the blog, I often feel and sense a state of mild frustration. Many challenges I face every day require a decision to be made and implemented, often leading to immediate action and problem solved. If we’re fortunate, the problem goes away, and we can move on to something else needing attention. Wellness issues cannot be solved so quickly. Wellness is a lifetime change situation. It is with us each and every day. We must think long-term. While we act daily on nutrition and exercise, the solutions are indeed long-term, and that is how we have to think.

The state’s problem with obesity will not change with a new piece of legislation or any other seminal act that makes it go away. It will require a long-term program attacked from many angles by all of us acting independently and together. I once read that most revolutions in world history were started by groups of 12 or less. If such is true, it gives me hope that a few of us could start a revolution and attack the problems of obesity and diabetes in the state. It will not be solved by one little speech from me or anyone else. You can fill a bucket one drop at a time, and we the citizens can fill the bucket if we all contribute a drop.

We can contribute in our own personal way. First, look at your personal situation. Accept my challenge and begin the process of living a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition and exercise as your cornerstones. Second, wherever you are plugged in, reach out to at least one other person every day. Think of each contact you make as a drop of water in the bucket. If all of us contribute, our bucket soon will be full. 

Can you give me a drop of water today? 

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Making a commitment to better health is one of the most important investments we can make. This is a lifelong process that requires taking responsibility for our own behavior. That doesn't mean doing everything alone. Family, friends, and medical and community resources are sources of support.

Many agencies and organizations – including the LSU AgCenter – also are targeting the nation's health issues, such as the increase in obesity and type 2 diabetes. Many of these groups, such as the American Dietetic Association, American Diabetes Association, and American Heart Association, provide educational programs and materials to help people achieve better health.

In addition to the agencies and organizations that provide credible and current research-based information, there still are many quick-fix diet programs. Although these programs promise fast and easy weight loss, studies show that healthy eating habits, maintaining an exercise program, and losing weight gradually are the most effective ways of reducing weight permanently.

Beth Reames


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spring Forward with Exercise

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It still rings in my ears. “Get on the treadmill four times a week for forty minutes at level 4, and do that for the rest of your life.” My doc gave me this advice, which I have reported to you before. He didn’t give me the same old generic advice, but rather specific go-do-this advice. Mathematically, it looked easy – 160 minutes out of a week that has 10,800 minutes available for living your life. Surely, we can find 160 of those for vigorous exercise.

But we don’t! I have a list of excuses a mile long. And, what is ironic is that I really enjoy exercise. Why make excuses about something that you like? We humans are really weird sometimes. We are too busy to invest 160 minutes a week in exercise that will give us more 10,800-minute weeks to enjoy life. We are too busy? I find myself saying that all the time. I have a busy day and may not be able to get to the treadmill or take a long, vigorous walk. What a poor excuse! We need to just get over it – too busy, too tired, too whatever. Develop an exercise program that meets your needs and just do it as long as you are able.

Now that the weather is warmer, and the daylight saving time has arrived for the next few months, it is time to take some of your aerobic exercises outdoors. On Sunday I took an hour-long walk around university lakes and plan to a walk the levee after work this week. This type of exercise is less boring than a treadmill, and I generally just prefer being outdoors.

February was a difficult month, and I did not meet my exercise goals. I was too busy. Now the only thing that I can do is attack March 2008 and get in my 16-17 workouts. I’m challenging myself to do just that and will let you know how I’m doing. I refuse to let the too-busy excuse hold me back.

How long can we expect to live? Let’s think long term tomorrow.

Bill Richardson

Monday, March 10, 2008

Walking the Walk – Guest Blogger

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(Editor’s Note: Today’s guest blog is from Rep. Patrick Williams, who plans to walk from Shreveport to Baton Rouge to bring attention to childhood obesity and autism. The walk will begin Thursday, March 20, at 7 a.m. in the LSU-Shreveport parking lot with arrival on or before Monday, March 31, on the Capitol steps.)

Last week the Legislature completed a special session where we passed a series of needed reforms to Louisiana’s ethics laws. We increased transparency into the finances of legislators and other public officials. We banned state contracts for legislators and other public officials.

With those and other reforms, we improved the perception of Louisiana government – both at home and across the nation. Perception is important, but there’s much more to do.

Now, the hard work must begin.

Louisiana’s people demand quality, affordable health care. They want public schools that teach our children the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st century. They want good jobs with good benefits.

We know that jobs, education and health care are all linked. We can’t improve Louisiana without improving each of these. That will take time and lots of work.

That’s where this walk to Baton Rouge comes in. The 226 miles from Shreveport is a lot work. The distance and the effort stand as good symbols of the work we all have ahead of us to improve Louisiana. I want to draw our citizens’ attention – from one corner of the state to another – to the task we have ahead of us.

I’m walking to remind the governor and my colleagues in the Legislature that we must improve health care, education and employment opportunities. I’m walking to remind the citizens of our state that the dedicated men and women of the Legislature are working to improve life for all of us.

I’m also walking to draw attention to the deep-seated problem of childhood obesity. According to the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Richard Carmona, “We may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.” This statement was made as a result of the startling increase in childhood obesity rates over the past two decades (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2003). Nationwide, the childhood obesity rates for children of all ages have increased from 4% in 1971, to almost 17% in 2004. Additionally, another 16% were considered at risk of overweight. An alarming rate of 37% of elementary school-age children are either overweight or at risk of being overweight (Ogden, 2006).

Little published data is available on the childhood obesity rates in Louisiana. One statistic from an unpublished study in New Orleans found that 31% of children between the ages of 6-14 were overweight or obese (Carlisle, Gordon, Sothern, 2005). Other reports have shown that prevalence of overweight or obesity in high school students in Louisiana range from 13% to 16% (Action for Healthy Kids).

Childhood obesity rates are of particular concern because children who are overweight or obese are 70% more likely to be overweight or obese as an adult. Being overweight or obese substantially increases a person’s risk for the development of nutrition-related chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, stroke, sleep apnea, hypertension and osteoarthritis (Centers for Disease Control). Further, pediatricians are reporting an increase in the number of overweight children who are being diagnosed with “adult diseases” such as type 2 diabetes (Ludwig & Ebbeling, 2001). This is of great concern because a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes further increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke and kidney disease (Must & Anderson, 2003).

Poor dietary habits and lack of physical activity are major controllable contributing factors to overweight and obesity in children. According to Gleason and Suitor (2001), only 14% and 20% of children from 6-19 years of age consumed 2-4 servings of fruit and 3-5 servings of vegetables per day, respectively. Further, children consume less milk and more beverages with added sugars such as soda and fruit drinks. Low fruit, vegetable and milk consumption may be a result of the startling increase in fast food consumption among children (American Heart Association, 2005).

Lack of physical activity has also been recognized as another contributing factor to the current child and adult obesity rates. Data from the 1999-2001 National Health Interview Study indicate that 61.5% of children aged 9-13 years do not participate in any type of organized physical activity outside of school and 22.6% fail to participate in free-time activity (CDC, 2002). Opportunities for physical activity in school are also limited. In the School Health Policies and Programs Study, only 8% of elementary schools nationwide provide daily physical education classes to students throughout the year (Burgeson, Wechsler, Brener, Young, & Spain, 2001).

Obesity is a growing health care problem in Louisiana and carries with it significant costs, both in terms of dollars and lives. According to the United Health Foundation, Louisiana is one of the unhealthiest states in the nation (ranking: 49, up one from the previous year). Because Louisiana has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, and an estimated 23% of children in the state live in poor families, combating the epidemic is crucial, but difficult (Fass & Cauthen, 2005). To reduce the prevalence of overweight/obesity in Louisiana, it is essential that we teach younger children to adopt healthy behaviors now, before unhealthy habits are established. Obese children tend to grow into obese adults, and their health problems become magnified. A sick worker can’t earn.

Fighting childhood obesity helps create a good foundation for our children. It helps keep them healthy, keep them in school and launches them into a productive future in school, in the workforce, in life. Our kids are 20% of our population; however, they are 100% of our future.

Patrick Williams

Nutritionist’s Response

Congratulations on your active approach of bringing attention to the problem of overweight in children and adolescents. Walking from Shreveport to Baton Rouge not only shows your commitment to the issue of childhood weight problems, but also illustrates the activity of walking that, if practiced daily, would help to alleviate the problem.

The Dietary Guidelines recommend that children exercise at least 60 minutes every day. Physical activity promotes healthy growth and development, reduces risk of illness and improves feelings of well-being, energy level and self-confidence.

Helping young people realize that physical activity is fun, cool and can be a part of everyday life is critical to reducing the epidemic of overweight among today’s youth.

Ideas for adults to increase their child's physical activity include:

  • Encourage active play and organized exercise activities instead of television and video watching.
  • Support them when they join sports activities and clubs.
  • Take part in physical activity with them – biking, throwing the football, or shooting hoops. Don’t just sit on the sidelines!

Beth Reames

2/10/2009 1:16:37 AM
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