Nutrition is a constant changing field in which researchers provide ever changing information into what we know. This can lead to many contradictions to what should and should not be part of a healthy diet. I believe the best that research can do is provide an estimate and should not always be the final say. As with any important decision in one’s life, it requires collecting information then coming to one’s own critical conclusion on what is best for them. With that said, I still consider myself a student of nutrition and will be for a long time. I will provide insights, from my experiences, to answer the questions raised. Nothing in the research is conclusive, only approximations. Thus, national guidelines for nutrition and physical activity are only suggestions based on the ever growing and changing body of knowledge.
My friends and family have brought up the issue of when is the critical point to start and how one can simplify the process to pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Well, as with any investment into one’s life (e.g., taking up a new hobby, choosing a career, investing, etc), a baseline assessment must be conducted so you can understand where you stand in hopes of focusing your energy efficiently to achieve your goals. Thus, I strongly recommend a family health assessment (Free HERE). From my research, the students I have worked with have found this experience beneficial as they were able to focus their efforts and make realistic/achievable goals. For example, students who have family members prone to high blood pressure have focused their dietary goals to consuming less salt and/or fatty foods by replacing them with leaner alternatives, healthier oils, consuming more water, etc. Such goals are specific enough to measure versus just a generic recommendation of consume more fruits and vegetables. By committing to reduce salt intake and consume leaner meats, some of our students have seen improved blood markers – e.g., higher HDL (the good cholesterol).
Any other assessment is really up to the individual…but being able to know what you are prone to based on your family history is an essential step. And it’s free! So Miguel, yes this is a problem of awareness – knowing what you are prone to – as well as an issue to understanding where to focus your efforts. A family health assessment may provide the critical guidance towards a healthier lifestyle.
The population that I am interested in are emerging adults (age 18-25). These are a group of individuals who are still developing their identity and habits. I’m sure we have all gone through phases during these ages to establish our identity. So it’s an ideal age to develop solid health habits, as emerging adults appear to be accepting of new habits. Also, through focus groups that I’ve conducted, college students have responded well to partaking in a course to learn how to establish healthier habits.
1) Protein-Rich Breakfasts Prevent Unhealthy Snacking in the Evening, Study Finds (source: ScienceDaily)
“Breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, but up to 60 percent of American young people consistently skip it. Now, Heather Leidy, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, says eating a breakfast rich in protein significantly improves appetite control and reduces unhealthy snacking on high-fat or high-sugar foods in the evening, which could help improve the diets of more than 25 million overweight or obese young adults in the U.S.”
2) How Healthy is Your County? County Health Rankings 2013 (source: RWJF)
“How healthy is your county? Answers are out today in the 2013 County Health Rankings, which examine the health and well-being of people living in nearly every county in the United States and show that how long and well people live depends on multiple factors beyond just their access to medical care. The Rankings allow counties to see what’s making residents sick or healthy and how they compare to other counties in the same state. The County Health Rankings, now in its fourth year, is a joint project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.”
3) The Affordable Care Act: Three Years Post-Enactment (source: Kaiser Family Foundation)
“On March 23, 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law. Although the date for full implementation of most provisions of the law is January 1, 2014, the ACA has already led to progress toward expanded coverage of the uninsured; improved access and better care delivery models; broader access to community-based long-term care; and more integrated care and financing for beneficiaries who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.”
The following excerpt is from the Gates Foundation Annual Letter
“We can learn a lot about improving the world in the 21st century from an icon of the industrial era: the steam engine. Over the holidays I read The Most Powerful Idea in the World, a brilliant chronicle by William Rosen of the many innovations it took to harness steam power. Among the most important were a new way to measure the energy output of engines and a micrometer dubbed the “Lord Chancellor,” able to gauge tiny distances.”
Re-post from the RWJF
The NewPublicHealth National Prevention Strategy series is underway, including interviews with Cabinet Secretaries and their National Prevention Council designees, exploring the impact of transportation, education and more on health. “Better Transportation Options = Healthier Lives” tells a visual story on the role of transportation in the health of our communities.
- Public transit users walk an average of 19 minutes getting to and from public transportation.
- Countries with lower rates of obesity tend to have higher rates of commuters who walk or bike to work.
- The risk of obesity increases 6% with every additional mile spent in the car, and decreases 5% with every kilometer walked.
- Lengthy commutes cost $100 billion each year in excess fuel costs and lost productivity.
- More than 30,000 people died in car wrecks in 2010.
- Strong seatbelt and child safety laws resulted in a 25% decrease in car accident deaths since 2005.
Also check out our previous infographic exploring the connection between education and health.
>>For more on transportation and health:
- Read an issue brief, “How Does Transportation Impact Health?”
- Read our interview with Ray LaHood, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
- Read about transportation innovation on the local level in an interview with David Fleming, public health director of Seattle and King County.
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