Chancellor's Challenge. Chancellor Bill Richardson has made the decision to change to a healthierlifestyle. Follow his daily accounts and remarks from nutritionists to help him stay on course.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Start Now to Fight Teen Obesity

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June is here, and the weather report this morning was predicting very hot weather for Baton Rouge for Monday. You might want to go back and re-read the blog about fluids and sunscreen.

An interesting article in the paper recently indicated that the obesity problem in teenagers is stabilizing across the U.S. While this is good news, it is somewhat like saying that gas prices have stabilized at an all-time high. We cannot let our guard down and become complacent within our own lifestyle changes and our public diligence. We still have a major obesity problem. It is still a major problem with our youth.

Struggle as we might with our own lifestyle changes, it is important that we adults set a standard. For example, if we drink and drive, how can we expect our kids to take our advice about drinking and driving? If we lie, cheat and steal, how can we expect our children to listen to us? If we are fat and don’t exercise, how then can we expect our kids to adopt a healthy lifestyle? We have to be role models, and that covers all aspects of our lives. Enough of a sermon for today.

Tomatoes are starting to ripen. And they add a wonderful side dish to our meals. You cannot beat a vine-ripened tomato. I like them chilled with a moderate amount of salt and pepper. In fact, I’m going to the farmer’s market this weekend and get some fresh tomatoes. Fresh vegetables are important to a healthy lifestyle nutrition plan.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

The prevalence and increase in childhood obesity seems to be leveling off. This is according to studies done by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from data gathered from 1999 to 2006 and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The most recent data gathered by CDC are based on two surveys – one in 2003 to 2004 and one in 2005 to 2006 – that included 8,165 young people from 2 to 19 years old. In those surveyed, about 16 percent of children and teenagers were obese. Their body mass index, or BMI, was above the 95th percentile on U.S. growth charts. In the 1960s and 1970s, only about 5 percent of children and teenagers in the United States were obese.

According to the survey, obesity rates have not increased since 1999. In fact, there may have been a slight decrease in the number of children who fall into the obese category, from 17.1 percent to 15.5 percent between the 2003 and 2006 surveys. The percentage of children identified as overweight and obese has remained stable at about 32 percent since 1999. Overweight is defined as at or above the 85th percentile.

The researchers did not give reasons for the leveling off of childhood obesity rates. The alarm that had been raised by medical communities, researchers and various public and governmental agencies some years ago has prompted everyone to act. Several states have passed legislation restricting the kinds of food served and mandating physical activity at schools. Many cities have come on board with community planning that promotes active living – one not anchored on the use of a car to get around. Many in the food industry have started to provide smaller portions and more complete labels to help determine portion sizes and calories. Maybe all of these actions have had enough of an impact and we are starting to see results. However, there is still much to be done. We have a generation of children heavier than ever before. As they mature they will develop chronic diseases at an earlier age than ever before.

When parents, government, schools, the food and beverage industries, other businesses, and the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors work together, we can see real changes in communities. The LSU AgCenter Web site (www.lsuagcenter.com) has a lot of information about making healthy lifestyle changes and smart choices when it comes to eating and exercising.

Summer is here, and children are out of school. Summer is the time to get them in to programs that help them become physically fit. For parents, limit your children’s screen time during the summer and provide other activities such as arts and crafts and physical activities such as swimming. Make sure to provide healthy and nutritious snacks for children and see that they get adequate sleep.

Heli Roy


Monday, May 26, 2008

Kill Two Bugs with One Stone – Guest Blog

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Gardening, especially vegetable gardening, is a great way to kill two bugs with one stone. It gives you better access to fresh, healthy vegetables to eat, and it provides bouts of good exercise in the sunny outdoors.

Vine-ripened and fully ripe vegetables will have their peak of flavor and vitamin content. That's gotta be good. If you're like most gardeners, you'll plant more than you need. The extra you can share with family and friends, put up for future use or just eat more veggies because you have them. Commercial shipping costs and farm production costs have risen immensely in the last year, so our efforts at self-sustainability are more valuable than ever.

Gardening for many is a healing and calming activity, although it can be a lot of work at times. Gardeners polled tell us they garden because they just enjoy the activity. It's creative to nurture your plants to fruition. Many have told me that stress and cares fade away when spending time in the garden. I especially like pulling well-rooted weeds and squashing stinkbugs. Trying to out-smart those pests, bugs and varmints is often a good mental challenge, too. Spade over your garden soil instead of power-tilling unless you have a large area; the exercise will do you good. Even with larger tilled areas, you will still be pulling up rows with a rake and hoe at some point. Some sunshine exposure and fresh air are essential to good health, although excess exposures should be protected against with sunscreen and adequate clothing.

Folks garden in many ways and places to meet their needs and desires. Some even mini-garden or pot-garden because of lack of space. But a conventional, full-sun garden plot, where you can chop and pull weeds, is still the best choice for good production and exercise of joints and muscle.

Learn more about home gardening.

Tom Koske

2/10/2009 1:16:34 AM
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