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Small Change Summit- A Healthier America One Change at a Time

Posted on Jan 28, 2009 by Maggie LaBarbera

I had the opportunity to attend the "Small Change" summit held by the USDA in Washington DC earlier this month. I was invited to attend as a representative for Nourish Interactive along with other corporate partners. Corporate partners are organizations that have signed up to work with the USDA to promote healthier eating.(To read more about the corporate partner program, click here)

The Small Change Summit was hosted by the Dr Brian Wansink, the director of the CHPP.

The goal of the summit was two-fold:

  • to share new data about obesity
  • to collaborate with corporate partners
Dr James Hill and Dr Gilbert Leveille presented new research on obesity which has lead the USDA to take a new position on obesity - "the importance of making small changes in our lifestyles"

Here is some key points that their research showed:

  • trying to get Americans to lose weight requires significant changes in their lifestyles
  • it is very difficult for people to make big changes in their habits and sustain them for the long-term (thus most dieters gain back their weight... and then some)
  • there are three factors that make it hard for us to keep weight off, long-term -
  • biology (once you gain weight, your body wants to stay at this new weight)
  • economics (i.e., high fat, high sugar foods are often cheaper than healthier foods - supersizing is a dollar value)
  • socially- our lifestyle lends itself to inactivity/ lots of marketing-messaging for high caloric foods
So these researchers showed how America as a country is gaining weight - about 2 pounds per year. So their message was - instead of focusing on trying to get Americans to their ideal weight, let's help America just maintain the weight they are at. If we could stop gaining weight and just stay at our current weight that will have significant health benefits.

Okay, this may sound like they are giving up on getting Americans to lose weight but I think they are just taking a step back and realizing that first, they need to stop the weight gain.

What do we need to do? Not that much!! That is the good news. Essentially, you just need to cut 50-100 calories from your diet per day to stop the weight gain.

What is a 50 - 100 calories change? You might be surprised at how little effort it would take to do this.

Here are some examples of how to cut 50-100 calories out of your or your child's diet:

  • switch from whole milk to 1% or nonfat
  • use a small glass for juice instead of a large glass
  • eat a half of a large bagel instead of a whole bagel
  • have your hamburger without cheese
  • cook with nonstick cooking spray instead of butter
  • buy water packed tuna instead of oil packed tuna
  • substitute fat-free sour cream in recipes instead of regular sour cream
  • order pizza with grilled chicken instead of pepporoni
  • trim the fat off of beef, pork and chicken before cooking
  • leave the croutons out of the salad
  • bake, broil or grill instead of frying
  • remove the skin from chicken
  • eat 1/2 cup of pasta or rice instead of a whole cup
  • have the ice cream without the cone
  • have a half of a slice of cake or pie
  • eliminate a soda
  • eat baked chips in place of regular chips
  • buy canned fruit packed in water instead of heavy syrup
  • Or you can keep your diet the same but add exercise: walk around 20 minutes
I think you can see how small these changes are. So minor that we can easily maintain them!

One message was very clear. The best solution to obesity is prevention. It is so much easier to maintain our current weight than it is to lose and keep that weight off.

This reaffirms the purpose of my work. We need to get the little ones, our children, learning about healthy choices at a young age. I can't stress this enough. We need to provide learning opportunities that are not only fun for kids (so they want to learn) but also help them associate positive associations with healthy eating.

Our future depends on it!

Free Online Health and Nutrition Resources: Children's Nutrition Education Game- The Chef Solus' Food Pyramid Adventure Family Nutrition Tools- BMI Calculator, Meal Planner, Printable Tips USDA Nutrition Education Resources- Children's Nutrition




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Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 @ 03:11 AM

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Wednesday, Mar 04, 2009 @ 10:05 PM

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Tuesday, Apr 14, 2009 @ 03:57 PM

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