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The Facts:   Health, Fitness and Americans

The Facts: Health, Fitness and Americans

  • 34% of the American adult population is overweight (US Surgeon General, 1994)
  • After smoking, weight-related conditions are the second leading cause of death in the USA, resulting in 300,000 deaths/year (US Surgeon General, 1980)
  • Poor diet and lack of exercise are associated with top 10 causes of death in US, including top three: (US Surgeon General, 1994)
    • Heart Disease
    • Cancer
    • Stroke
    • Diabetes
  • Only 8% of Americans are getting the amount of exercise recommended for minimal health benefits – 29% of Americans are sedentary (1994 CDC Survey)
  • At any one time 45% women and 24% men are trying to lose weight (Journal of the American Dietetic Assoc., 6/95).
  • Only 12% of Americans had 80% or above scores in the USDA’s Healthy Eating Index
    • Less than 33% of Americans are eating the suggested number of food servings from the 5 major food groups on a daily basis
    • Only 23% of Americans eat the 5 servings of fruits and vegetables recommended each day
    • Individuals are most likely to under-consume fruits, vegetables and grains


The Recommendations:

American Heart Association Guidelines

  • Include both aerobic and strength training exercise
  • Increase intake of monounsaturated fatty acids (olive, canola and peanut oils)
  • Increase fiber intake by eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dried beans to lower LDL cholesterol
  • Keep fat intake to 15-30% of daily calories
    • Increase intake of monounsaturated fats (olive, canola and peanut oils)
  • Decrease intake of high sugar foods
  • Increase intake of Omega-3 fatty acids (but do not supplement - eat fish instead)
  • Decrease sodium intake (<2400 mg/day)
  • Balance exercise with moderate food intake to maintain or reduce weight.  (BMI 19-25)
  • Don't go ultra low-fat. Less than 15% fat may decrease HDL cholesterol and increase triglycerides.
  • Be flexible.  Consider the balance of foods consumed over a week instead of single meals or single days - consistency is key.

American Cancer Society Guidelines

  • Choose most of the foods you eat from plant sources
    • Eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day
    • Eat other plant foods several times per day (bread, cereal, grains, rice, pasta, beans)
  • Limit amounts of meat, dairy and other high-fat foods
  • Become more physically active by including at least moderate activity for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight by balancing caloric intake and physical activity
  • If you drink alcohol, limit your alcohol intake.

American Diabetes Association Guidelines

  • Eat foods from each food group each day
  • Increase fiber intake by eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans
  • Limit fat, sodium and cholesterol intake
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Exercise at least several days each week (but always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program)

USDA Dietary Guidelines

  • Eat a variety of foods each day
  • Balance food intake with moderate exercise
  • Include whole grains, fruits and vegetables daily
  • Decrease intake of total fats, saturated fat and cholesterol
  • Moderate your intake of sugars, sodium and alcohol

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