Poor diet and physical inactivity are preventable causes of death, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.
Reports from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that deaths from poor diet and physical inactivity rose by 33 percent over the past decade. According to the 2000 report, 400,000 deaths in the United States (17 percent of all deaths) were related to poor diet and physical inactivity. Only tobacco use caused more deaths, at 435,000.
Reames points out that physical activity is one of the new 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Physical Activity guideline recommends that Americans engage in regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well-being and a healthy body weight. The amount of physical activity recommended depends on the intended goal:
To reduce chronic disease risk in adulthood, do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, most days of the week. Increase time or intensity for greater health benefits.
To manage body weight and prevent body weight gain in adulthood, do 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity most days of the week.
To sustain weight loss in adulthood, do 60-90 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.
The nutritionist explains that the physical activity guideline also encourages Americans to achieve physical fitness by including cardiovascular conditioning, stretching exercises for flexibility and resistance exercises or calisthenics for muscle strength and endurance.
The Dietary Guidelines define physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles resulting in energy expenditure. Physical fitness is defined as the ability to perform physical activity. Being physically fit provides several health benefits: enables one to meet physical demands of work and leisure comfortably, lowers risk for chronic diseases and aids in managing mild to moderate depression and anxiety.
Many Americans are inactive. Recent CDC reports show that 25 percent of American adults reported not participating in leisure activities and 38 percent of 9 to 12 year olds watch more than three hours of television per day.
"Americans can take small, achievable steps to increase physical activity and improve their health," Reames says, adding, "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."
The LSU AgCenter’s 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 additional information about Portions, contact the Extension agent in your parish. For information on related nutrition, family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst/