Saturday, March 15, 2014

National Nutrition Month

The Nutrition Month 2014 theme is Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right. Consumer research suggests that people tend to purchase and eat more of the foods that taste great to them. The trick lies in convincing people that foods low in saturated fats, sodium, and added sugars and rich in color, fiber, and poly- and monounsaturated fats are tasty.

The 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data and the 2011 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey data tell us that 28% of Maine's adult and 13% of Maine's youth population are obese. These data also show that only one third of Maine's adult and youth population meet the fruit and vegetable recommendations.  Many of the most common chronic diseases that cut Maine residents' lives short are influenced by food intake, activity level, and weight status, so it's important that Maine focuses on strategies to aid people in enjoying the taste of eating right.

Here are a few suggestions from the US CDC Division of Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention:
  • Increase access to healthy foods
    • o   Consider which foods are readily available at work, school, and the childcare center. Aim to make the environment support the words "making the easy choice the healthy choice."
    • o   Is there a grocery store with affordable and varied produce within 10 miles of residents in rural areas? Or 1 mile in urban areas? If not, what could be done?
    • o   Is there a farmers' market in those areas that live greater than the 10 or 1 mile from a grocery store? If not what can be done about it?
    • Support farm to school and farm to institution.
      • o   Farm to School programs introduce youth to healthy foods in their natural state and often include taste testing. This has been shown to increase youth's likelihood of eating foods like fruits and vegetables.
      • o   Does your child's school have a garden? Growing a vegetable garden is another great way to create interest in eating fruits and vegetables.

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