New Report Shows Americans Need Motivation Plus Information to Achieve, Maintain Healthy Weight, Says American Dietetic Association
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CHICAGO – The new report F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2010, released Tuesday, June 29, by the Trust for America's Health, shows families across the country continue to struggle to consume a healthful diet. The American Dietetic Association agrees with the report's findings that obesity represents one of the largest public health challenges ever faced by the United States.
ADA encourages continued efforts to ensure adults and children alike have access to adequate amounts of healthful foods, education on eating well and preventive health services including counseling by registered dietitians, the nation's food and nutrition experts.
"We stand at an important point in history for our country's health – a challenging time and an exciting time," said registered dietitian and American Dietetic Association President Judith C. Rodriguez. "Excess weight and obesity, especially in children, are major health concerns, often accompanied by inadequate nutrient intakes and a lack of physical activity. The report also makes clear that racial, ethnic, regional and income disparities exist in the nation's obesity rates.
"The American Dietetic Association and our 71,000-plus members have the expertise, training and credentials that are vital to promoting the positive lifestyle choices that F as in Fat shows so clearly we need," Rodriguez said.
"The evidence is clear that the science-based expertise of registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered leads directly to a healthier and better-nourished public. We offer guidance that is personalized, doable, practical and affordable. We know what does and doesn't work. We cut through the clutter of information that is often overwhelming, scattered and inaccurate, and we serve as consumers' lifeline to eating right," Rodriguez said.
"The findings of this report show more information and standards are only part of the answer to the obesity crisis. Even when we start to make changes in our environment in terms of food and lifestyle choices, real change is difficult. To make meaningful changes, people need to know how to sort out and use the mass of nutrition information that they see every day. People need motivation to act and to see evidence that their efforts are paying off."
This report and other studies, including ADA's own public opinion surveys, show that people are interested in making significant changes to achieve a healthy weight. "It will take time for the changes we are seeing to have an impact on an entire population. We need to stay the course," Rodriguez said.
"The federal government can make meaningful progress now by ensuring every adult and child has access to coverage for preventive medical services, including nutrition and obesity counseling. Congress should reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act this summer to ensure children receive high quality meals and snacks in a health-promoting school environment," Rodriguez said.
ADA and its Foundation support the main recommendation in the report – "continue to invest in research and evaluation on nutrition, physical activity, obesity and obesity-related health outcomes and associated interventions." ADA and ADAF are making a significant investment in finding and implementing long-term solutions to issues like the obesity epidemic, through research, community-based and nationwide initiatives. They include:
- The Healthy Schools Partnership, an innovative collaboration of the ADA Foundation, the Healthy Weight Commitment, the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition Foundation, and PE4life, helps children change their eating behaviors with one-on-one sessions with registered dietitians known as RD Nutrition Coaches during physical education classes. For the past three years in Kansas City, Mo., the HSP has seen remarkable results in changing eating behaviors of students. This year, the program expanded to Des Moines, Iowa, with an added focus on physical activity and the home environment. Researchers from the Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Center for Weight and Health at the University of California-Berkeley found fruit and vegetable consumption went up among children who participated in the program, and that registered dietitians are valuable in teaching and leading nutrition interventions in the school setting.
- The ADA Foundation, with seed funding from the National Dairy Council, is developing a campaign called Kids Eat Right to highlight nutrition solutions leading to healthy weights. The campaign, incorporating Fuel Up to Play 60, the NDC's national school-based nutrition and physical activity initiative, will put more registered dietitians in community and school settings, and equipping them with tools and resources for shaping positive, lifelong habits of good nutrition and physical activity in youth. "Kids Eat Right" will launch as children head back to school and with the beginning of football season.
- The ADA Foundation is in the eighth year of its partnership with the General Mills Foundation on the Champions for Healthy Kids grants program, making $10,000 micro-grants available annually to 50 not-for-profits that have developed innovative nutrition and physical activity programs for youth – all of which must include a registered dietitian. An outside evaluation of this program has shown, among other things, that the involvement of RDs is highly valued by program participants.
- ADA is working with members of Congress to include strong provisions in the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, including extending nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, strengthening nutrition education and promotion and local school wellness policies and establishing professional standards for district-level school nutrition directors.
- ADA is one of several national groups participating in the Alliance for a Healthier Generation's Healthcare Initiative, the first coordinated national effort of its kind, supported by national health associations, insurers and employers, to offer health benefits that include visits to a registered dietitian. The American Dietetic Association has become an organizational partner in the National Physical Activity Plan, a coalition of organizations and individuals working to empower Americans to be physically active every day.
- Five members of the American Dietetic Association, including three registered dietitians, served on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The cornerstone of federal food policy in the United States, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are especially important in developing nutrition education programs and strengthening food assistance programs, which include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the School Lunch and WIC Programs.
The American Dietetic Association is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org
The American Dietetic Association Foundation is a 501(c)3 charity devoted exclusively to nutrition and dietetics. It funds scholarships and awards, public awareness and research projects and ADA strategic initiatives. Visit ADAF at www.eatright.org/foundation.