LSU AgCenter Nutritionist Recommends Small Steps for Healthier Lifestyle

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  4/19/2005 10:28:31 PM

News You Can Use For April 2004

Poor diet and physical inactivity may soon become the leading preventable cause of death. An estimated 129.6 million Americans, or 64 percent, are overweight or obese according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

With these facts in mind, the National Institutes of Health has launched a new public awareness and education campaign called Healthy Lifestyles and Disease Prevention. It encourages American families to take small, manageable steps within their current lifestyles for effective, long-term weight control, Reames explains.

A recent Centers for Disease Control study shows that deaths from poor diet and physical inactivity rose by 33 percent over the past decade and may soon overtake tobacco as the leading preventable cause of death. In 2000, some 400,000 U.S. deaths (17 percent of all deaths) were related to poor diet and physical inactivity. Only tobacco use caused more deaths (435,000).

According to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, the Healthy Lifestyles and Disease Prevention campaign teaches Americans that they can take small, achievable steps to improve their health and reverse the obesity epidemic.

Each small step makes a difference, whether it is taking the stairs instead of an elevator or snacking on fruits and vegetables. The small steps will lead to better health.

Reames says obesity and overweight have been shown to increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some forms of cancer and other disabling medical conditions. The total direct and indirect costs, including medical costs and lost productivity, were estimated at $117 billion nationally for 2000, according to the 2001 Surgeon General's Call to Action on Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity.

The Healthy Lifestyles and Disease Prevention initiative includes multi-media public service advertisements and a new interactive Web site -

Research has shown that many Americans believe that they need to make drastic changes in their lifestyles to get healthy. The new program shows how small steps are achievable by most people and can go a long way to promoting better health.

The LSU AgCenter’s ongoing Portions Program provides current, research-based information and recommendations to help Louisiana citizens achieve and maintain a healthy weight by setting realistic goals for better health and learning to balance the food they eat with appropriate physical activity.

For local information and educational programs in related areas of family and consumer sciences, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office. Also, visit the Family and Consumer Sciences Web site at


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:
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Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3329, or

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