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March 2020 has been a unique month. Questions about the coronavirus remain. While those with preexisting conditions seem more susceptible, why are younger, seemingly healthy people dying? I don’t know the reason, but like all Americans, I remain hopeful scientists will soon have that answer.

In his article, “Americans Unfit to Fight a Pandemic,” Dr. Rami Bailony wrote in Medpage Today, “While the public health focus has been on isolation and sanitation to slow the spread of the [COVID-19] virus, one thing we are not talking about is how our baseline health as a country makes us more susceptible to not only getting the virus but also succumbing to it.” Why does he feel that way (and I agree)?

After viewing a picture sent to him from a Costco store, Dr. Bailony made several observations about what many Americans deemed as needed foods to keep them sequestered at home. Not only did standing in long lines exacerbate the contagion problem, but he was shocked by what filled people’s carts. “From cart to cart I saw boxes of soda, chips, candy bars, and a whole lot of frozen chicken wings.” He called it a bandage-based approach to health and disease. Below I have summarized the five foundational cracks he believes make the coronavirus more deadly.

  • Failure to address the obesity epidemic. With obesity approaching fifty percent of the population, we have opened the door to greater risks for infection. As Bailony points out, obesity increases risks for respiratory infections and unfortunately, the severity of those infections. During the H1N1 epidemic, sixty-one percent of individuals who died from that condition were categorized as obese (BMI ≥30). Bailony cited other studies which showed that “people who struggle with obesity have cellular defects in certain immune cells that contributed to higher mortality.”
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Only fifteen percent of us over age sixty-five are physically active. Moderate-intensity exercise improves immune function and has the potential to reduce the severity of respiratory viral infections.
  • Lack of enough whole fruits and vegetables. More and more scientists prove that Mom was right, “Eat your vegetables.” These foods enhance our immune response. Less than ten percent of our population eat the recommended daily intake of vegetables. Why? Like the many foods we eat that aren’t as healthy, much of it is a matter of habit. It’s also a matter of acquired taste. If you don’t like a vegetable prepared one way, try another. I have been surprised when vegetables I didn’t especially like became tasty delights when I prepared a different way.
  • Defeated by psychological stress. Some surveys indicate that on any given day, more than fifty percent of Americans suffer acute or chronic stress. Bailony states that “in 2018, a third of Americans visited a doctor for stress-related conditions.” Stress is a known risk factor for obesity. Also, it has been associated with decreased antibody response to influenza vaccine.
  • Preparing for the next epidemic. Check the news on any day since the outbreak of the coronavirus in America. Someone (or many) blame lack of preparedness from the government and the healthcare system. Meanwhile, way too many disregard guidelines given early on. Abuse and disregard of orders to stay home, practice social distancing, and wash hands has moved our nation into perilous times. We don’t listen, and sadly, many don’t care. Unfortunately, some of those same individuals have succumbed to the illness not to mention the many they may have infected that caused multiple deaths.

So, before we blame government and the healthcare system for unpreparedness, perhaps we should look in the mirror and determine if we are part of the problem based on weight, eating patterns, and lifestyle. Let’s stay safe and do our part in overcoming this pandemic.

Note. Readers may be unable to open the link without subscription to Medpage Today.

 

 

 

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Is any one diet more effective than others? People with excessive weight extend well beyond borders of the United States. It is a worldwide dilemma. The purpose of World Obesity Day on October 11, 2019 is to draw attention to the need for all nations to address this escalating problem.

Many continue to look for the perfect plan to lose weight, and reading diet books has become an American pastime to find the secret. Numerous books promote special foods, meal plans, and food restrictions. Guidelines show authors’ viewpoints whether they are qualified to address the subject or not. Do they work? If all those directions are so good, why are multitudes in our society overweight or obese? Interestingly, most diet plans may work―for a short time.

The Christmas story about eight-year-old Virginia, the little girl who wrote the editor of the New York Sun, asked, “Is there a Santa Claus?” The answer reminds all of us “He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and . . .  they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”  Yes, the perfect diet also exists, but we won’t find it on the best seller’s book list. The perfect diet for each of us is the one that keeps us well-nourished to maintain appropriate weight and remain active and healthy to give us “highest beauty and joy.”

My writings and blog posts address weight issues and our addiction to trying the latest fad or weight-loss potion. Recently, I published God’s Diet Plan: Seek Him First, my version of how to find our perfect diet. The foods we consume are personal and individual preferences―something each of us chooses. Nowhere does my book say to “eat this” or “don’t eat that.” We get to pick and choose the diet we want based on taste and the knowledge we gain about wise food choices. My book equips each of us to find the perfect diet for us with appropriate guidance in how to choose the healthiest foods and avoid overindulging.

 

You can find God’s Diet Plan: Seek Him First on Amazon/Kindle, Apple, and Nook by clicking the link or typing in the name of the book on each site. Read the preview and reviews on Amazon to consider if it may help you find the perfect diet. Let’s curb the worldwide obesity epidemic―one person at a time starting with each of us.

 

 

 

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Nutrition information seems ubiquitous, but is it reliable? Who can we trust? March is National Nutrition Month® (NMM). The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, promotes NMM as the valuable and creditable source of scientifically-based food information. The Academy recognizes its 100,000 plus members each year and celebrates Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Day on the second Wednesday of March. This year, March 13, 2019. 

The Academy’s mission is to promote optimal nutrition and well-being for all people. As nutrition experts, RDNs assist Americans as well as people everywhere translate scientific knowledge into practical application for healthy eating. RDNs individualize information to help each person make positive lifestyle changes. 

To improve your nutritional status and choice of healthy foods, see the “19 Health Tips for 2019” from the Academy. If you are a crossword fan, check out this puzzle. Then test your knowledge with the NNM 2019 quiz “Fact or Fiction?” Celebrate this month with healthier eating and make it a lifetime habit. 

 

 

 

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The number of obese people in our nation continues to escalate causing us to reflect on whether we are part of the statistics, and if not, should we care? Yes, we should. The rate of obesity impacts our entire population in multiple ways.See the source image

  • Healthcare costs: Studies show medical costs for those who are obese run 42 percent higher than costs for healthy weight individuals. Medical expenses (2016) related to weight issues resulted in $149 billion. Half of that was paid by Medicare or Medicare.
  • Job productivity: The consequences of obesity stagnate workflow because of missed work time and absence from schools and industry. Expenses increased for employers and taxpayers.
  • Military readiness: The most common cause of rejection for young adults into military service is related to obesity. Nearly one in three are ineligible due to weight problems. The Department of Defense pays nearly $1 billion annually for obesity-related issues.

Image result for clip art pixaby weight statistics

What is Obesity?

While it remains difficult to categorize everyone with the same standard, for adult the BMI remains the most functional tool to evaluate weight. Those who score 30 or above on the BMI scale are considered obese. Those with scores of 40 or more have severe obesity. Because the causes for this disease are complex, research studies continue to assess the many unique variances of individuals. While most who are overweight or obese overeat, the solution isn’t simply to cut calories, although that may be a good start for most.

Why We Should Care?

Obesity continues to rise to epidemic levels. Nearly 40 percent of American’s are obese compared to about 23 percent 25 years ago (late 80s – early 90s). Six states increased in the number of people with obesity from 2016 to 2017―Iowa, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and South Carolina―while 44 states did not show a statistical increase. That’s just one year. What fuels these increases?

Demographically, slightly more women are obese or severely obese than men. While nearly 40 percent of all adults are obese, less than 13 percent of Asians fall into that category while Latinos and blacks have the highest percentage. A greater number of middle-aged and older adults are obese than other age groups. Also, greater risks for obesity seem to occur in those with less education, those living in rural areas, and those with lower-income levels.

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To abate continual escalation of this major health problem, many communities and states have provided better opportunities for those at greater risk as well as for the general public. Numerous towns and cities now promote farmer’s markets as a source for fresh produce and other local food products. Many states and communities have improved access to quality activities in parks, walking trails, and other activity venues.

While all these efforts help, much of the solution rests in food selections individuals make and the quantity of foods they eat. Some industries have lowered sugar content in many products, and others have sought to make society more aware of what they are eating, such as calorie counts on menus. It takes a concerted effort from all of us to choose foods wisely and to help others understand the best way to make healthy choices. Much remains to be done.

Appetizer Summer Organic Colorful Freshnes

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March is National Nutrition Month®. This recognition, created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, promotes food and nutrition related education and information. Each year the Academy establishes a theme, and for this year it is “Go Further with Food,” a reminder to consumers to make healthy eating choices.

March 14 is National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day. Why should you choose a registered dietitian nutritionist for help with your food choices and dietary needs? They are the experts in human nutrition and appropriate dietary guidelines for a healthy lifestyle. Their specialized training includes a Bachelor’s Degree in the sciences and arts of food and nutrition plus advanced training in approved internships or the equivalent. At least half hold advanced degrees.

  • Clinical dietitian nutritionist may work in health care settings such as hospitals, extended care facilities, and other health related services. They work in specialized areas such as tube feedings or total parental nutrition and are often teammates with other specialists for optimum care of patients and clients.
  • Community dietitians often work in public health, home care agencies, varied health maintenance organizations, or wellness programs such as industry, business, or others. They may also work in schools and universities in varied areas of food and nutrition teaching.
  • Food Service dietitians are specifically trained in the overall operation of large-scale feeding facilities. They are responsible for the planning and execution in every phase of food preparation including safety and sanitation.
  • Gerontological, neonatal, and pediatric dietitians have special training and work with specific age groups to more readily meet age-appropriate needs.
  • Business dietitians often work in industry, especially foods or drugs, and serve as food and nutrition resource people in areas of business, marketing, and communications.

Whatever their role, their expertise in food and nutrition is vital for the well-being of individuals and the community they serve. As is often pointed out, every registered dietitian nutritionist is a nutritionist, but not everyone who claims to be a nutritionist is a registered dietitian. Make sure when you need the services of someone knowledgeable and credentialed in nutrition, foods, diets, or any related areas for healthy eating, you make the right choice. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you “Go Further with Food.”

Nutrition Pictures

 

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Do we take food for granted? While many in the world go to bed hungry, most of us  have abundant food and often tend to eat too much. October reminds us of the abundant fall harvests. Several groups choose October to celebrate our food sources.

Americans celebrate Food Day each year on October 24. The purpose is multifaceted. First, it’s a reminder to make positive changes in our diets. It’s also a good time to call attention to the value of food in diets of all Americans and help solve food availability problems throughout our nation. The 2015 theme, “Toward a Greener Diet,” promotes healthy, affordable food produced under friendly environmental conditions and recognizes  those who grow, harvest, and serve it. In 2014, Food Day emphasized food justice and 2013 focused on food education.

Earlier this month on October 16 we commemorated United World Food Day which recognized the founding of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1945. This significant date raised nutrition awareness worldwide. The 2015 theme, “Social protection and Agriculture,” sought to “improve agricultural productivity at all levels, enhance the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy.” Additionally, it proposed to help other countries change agricultural policies, aid areas enduring famine, and help nations use technology more effectively.

Previous themes of United World Food Day have included “Feeding the world, caring for the earth (2014),”  “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition (2013), ” and “Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world (2012).”

Let’s remain mindful of how to share and educate those with few options and opportunities for healthful foods. While typical American diets continue to contribute to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other health problems, it’s also a good time to check our own diets. On this Food Day October 24, 2015, let’s resolve to eat healthier, set a positive example for our families, and help those unable to help themselves.

 

 

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In the early 20th century, peddlers hawked their wares to those living in scattered households along country roads and often at community gatherings. Charlatans loaded wagons and backs of cars with elixirs of unknown ingredients. Most customers thought it made them feel better.Now more sophisticated companies promote numerous supplements under the guise of fast weight loss. Suddenly we decide we must lose ten pounds, and company X tells us we can do that by taking their no-fail pills and potions.

Many people believe the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guarantees the safety of these supplements. Not so. While all drugs and medications must be proven safe, supplements come under a different category. Dietary and herbal supplements don‘t need FDA approval, but when consumers suspect safety issues, the FDA must investigate and take necessary steps to remove products from the market. Fourteen states recently urged congress to investigate the herbal supplement industry to assure public safety.

The FDA has found numerous so-called “miracle” weight-loss products that make false claims on their labels.

  • Products may have hidden active ingredients found in drugs for specific diseases.
  • Manufacturers may use unsafe ingredients that the FDA removed from the market.
  • Manufacturers may use compounds that haven’t been adequately studied in humans to confirm safety and effectiveness.

The FDA has found supplements containing sibutramine, a  prescription drug marketed as the weight-loss product Meridia. The FDA removed it from the market in October 2010 because it caused heart problems and strokes. A number of products have contained triamterene, a powerful diuretic which can cause serious side effects when not monitored by a health professional.

While some manufacturers sell tainted products online and often heavily promote them on social media, unsafe supplements also show up on store shelves. If you are taking or considering taking any weight-loss supplement, heed  these warning signs to help decide a product’s legitimacy.

  • Promise of “quick fix” to lose weight.
  • Words used in advertising such as “guaranteed” or “scientific breakthrough.”
  • Products marketed in a foreign language or through mass emails.
  • Products marketed as “quick and effective” or “totally safe.”
  • Advertising relying on “testimonials” of unbelievable results.
  • Products with unrealistic or exaggerated claims.
  • Claims that sound too good to be true.

Keep in mind that labels may mislead. While food labels are reliable and governed by the FDA, supplement labels may leave out certain listed ingredients, add unlisted substances that could be harmful, or exaggerate the amounts of certain ingredients listed. Several deaths have resulted from these products. Just remember, don’t take anything unless you know it is completely safe. Try healthier means, like real food and exercise, to help you lose weight.

 

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