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Source: David Dzewaltowski, 785-532-7750, dadx@k-state.edu
http://www.k-state.edu/media/mediaguide/bios/dzewaltowskibio.html
Pronouncer: Dzewaltowski is JEV-ULL-TAU-SKEE.
News release prepared by: Tyler Sharp, 785-532-2535, media@k-state.edu

Friday, Jan. 21, 2011

CHANGING BEHAVIORS, ENVIRONMENTS CAN HELP SHED HOLIDAY POUNDS

MANHATTAN -- Having trouble losing the extra pounds you packed on over the holidays?

A Kansas State University physical activity expert says you may be too focused on the scales and not on how you gained the weight.

"Working on changing environments to promote healthy behaviors will be more beneficial than a focus on the outcome of body weight," said David Dzewaltowski, professor and head of K-State's department of kinesiology.

The first step is to direct attention to making better daily food and physical activity decisions instead of body weight outcomes, according to Dzewaltowski.

"Body weight fluctuates due to several factors," he said. "For example, increased muscle mass is a positive outcome from a fat loss program that won’t show up on a scale because muscle weighs more than fat."

Next, it is important to identify the times and places throughout the day where food and physical activity choices might occur. This is called the HOP'N strategy, Dzewaltowski said. HOP'N stands for healthy opportunities for physical activity and nutrition. The strategy, developed by Dzewaltowksi and colleagues, focuses on changing environments to provide available and accessible health food and physical activity options.

The next step is to pick a time and place where an immediate impact can be made. While it isn’t possible to make changes in every environment one encounters throughout the day, the confidence to build healthy opportunities for physical activity and nutrition increases with each success story, Dzewaltowski said.

"If you choose before work, for example, assess the HOP'N options and restructure the place to make physical activity and healthy eating the easy choice," he said.

Joining a fitness center, finding a place to exercise or buying fitness equipment can provide opportunities to create a more active lifestyle. Several diets provide a good plan for eating healthier. Dzewaltowski recommends the U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid plan, http://www.mypyramid.gov/. But he said the key to sticking to such a plan is creating the right environment.

"If you can set up your day so that you don't really need to put a lot of effort into making the healthy choice from a range of tempting and attractive unhealthy options, then the healthy choice and weight loss will be sustainable," he said.

Being proactive for the holidays in 2011 can be the final step toward ensuring a healthy and active environment.

"Choose places that provide healthy holiday opportunities for parties and vacations, and give healthy presents, especially physically active toys to children," he said.

The HOP'N strategy is an outcome of Dzewaltowski's research on childhood obesity funded by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund. The research was published in the December 2010 issue of the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity and is available at http://www.ijbnpa.org/content/7/1/90.