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K-State Today

June 13, 2013

Benefits and statistics about eating healthfully detailed

Submitted by Lisa Linck

Changing a habit can feel like a nearly impossible task. Wearing a safety belt every time you are in the car or brushing your teeth twice a day are good habits to start and continue. Unfortunately, many Americans are engaging in poor eating or nutrition habits that are affecting our health, safety and overall well-being.

Recent data shows that with adults ages 20 years and over, 34.2 percent overweight, 33.8 percent are obese and 5.7 percent are extremely obese. Poor eating habits and lack of physical activity are the major contributing factors to overweight and obesity in the U.S.

Good eating habits start at birth. These habits will provide optimal nutrition for infants that will benefit them throughout their lives. Healthy eating can reduce the risk of chronic illness and disease including the three leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer and stroke.

  • 37 percent of Americans have cardiovascular disease.
  • 34 percent of U.S. adults have hypertension, a major risk factors for stroke and heart disease.
  • 36 percent of American adults have prehypertension -- blood pressure numbers that are higher than normal, but not in the hypertension range yet.
  • 41 percent of the population will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.

The World Health Organization stated that at least 80 percent of all heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes, and up to 40 percent of cancer could be prevented if people ate better, engaged in more physical activity and quit using tobacco

Everyone should try to eat well and engage in physical activity. These habits are beneficial for all; whether you’re overweight, underweight or at a healthy weight. Simple changes can make a big impact on a person's well-being.

Nutrition basics

A diet in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancers and other chronic diseases. According to the Centers for Disase Control and Prevention:

  • only about 21 percent of adults consume the recommended amounts of fruits a day.
  • about one-third of adults consume the recommended amounts of vegetables a day.

Everyone's eating plan will vary — age, gender, height, weight and current level of physical activity all determine how many calories you need daily. The Daily Food Plan is a great tool to help find out the amount of calories needed and what food groups those calories should come from. 

Having a balanced diet should include foods from a variety of food groups

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • low fat milk products
  • lean meats

A variety of food will provide a balanced diet and ensure the body receives the nutrients it needs. 

Did you know?

  • Almost 39 million workdays are lost to obesity-related illnesses each year.
  • According to the Centers for Disase Control and Prevention, only 21 percent of adults consumed the recommended amount of fruits a day.
  • Similarly, only 33 percent of American adults ate the recommended amounts of vegetables a day.
  • Every year, one out of six people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 Americans die from foodborne illnesses.
  • According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of all cases of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes could be prevented if people ate healthier, were more physically active and stopped using tobacco.
  • Pregnant women and older adults need to pay particular attention to what they eat. See Special Populations for more information.

Source: National Safety Council

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