Shape Up America! Newsletter
NOT TOO LATE TO
PUT YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER
START WITH A CLEAN SWEEP
We know that January is the month of New Year's
resolutions, but February is not too late for starting
over. Now is as good a time as any to clean out
your refrigerator, freezer, pantry and kitchen
cabinets. As you consider the "temptation rating" of
each food, ask yourself the following question and
give yourself an honest answer. Is this a food I
overeat once I taste it? If the answer is yes, then
that food is a "red light" food.
If you live alone, now is the time to get rid of all red
light foods in your home. If you live with others, this
is an opportune time to sit down and explain why you
need to eliminate red light foods from your home.
Maybe the people you live with will have red light
foods of their own. Be prepared to compromise.
Your goal is to devise a strategy that will work for
everyone. One idea is for everyone to agree they
will purchase red light foods outside the home and
not bring them home. Another idea is to mutually
agree on special occasions (such as holidays or
birthdays) to purchase red light foods in small
quantities and bring them home for the purpose of
eating them on that special day only.
No matter where you encounter red light foods, the
idea is to consume them rarely. How often
is "rarely"? Start out by considering "rarely" as no
more than once a month. Rather than cutting them
out altogether, the goal is to eat red light foods
occasionally so that you don't feel deprived.
Remember when you do purchase red light foods,
purchase just enough so that everyone at the table
can enjoy one small serving with no leftovers.
FOR WEIGHT MANAGEMENT -- THE KEY IS PORTION CONTROL FIRST AND BECOMING MORE ACTIVE (BUT LATER)
We suggest you take it in order. Focus first on
regulating your food intake, choosing smaller portions
and making wiser food choices. After you feel you
have mastered the portion control issues (this can
take several months for most people), you can begin
to focus on physical activity. Why? Because if you
are significantly overweight and out of shape,
physical activity can be hard on your joints -
especially your knees, hips, ankles and feet. It will
be easier on your body if you take a few pounds off
first. That is why we recommend you learn the
principles of portion control first. If you are
confused about what a serving is, now is the time to
check out two tutorials on the Shape Up America!
website [www.shapeup.org]. One tutorial focuses on
portion control and the other teaches you about how
to read a food label. You will find those tutorials in
the "Members Only" section of the Shape Up
America! website. We encourage you to check them
out as soon as possible.
If you are ready for more physical activity, a small
investment (less than $30) will buy you a pedometer
that will count steps for you. You should start out
by conducting your own personal survey of your
activity levels. To do this, you should wear your
pedometer for several weeks. In a journal or
personal diary, make a note at the end of each day
of how many steps you took that day. Your
pedometer must be securely attached to a belt or
firm waistband in order to work properly. Take two
or three weeks of baseline information so that you
have a good picture of how many steps you
customarily take each day before you start "stepping
out." Take an average of the steps you take each
day. That number will be your own personal
baseline. Then you should set a daily step goal for
yourself that is 500 steps above your baseline - and
keep that goal for several weeks until you are
confident that it feels comfortable for you and you
are ready for more. Keep in mind that you should
increase your steps by a small increment - adding
500 steps is a good number - approximately every
two weeks. Don't go overboard because you will get
discouraged if you pull a muscle or injure yourself.
For more information, check out the Shape Up
America! website and read the step by step
procedure to reach the goal of 10,000 steps a day.
ARE YOU WATCHING TOO MUCH TV?
Look for alternatives to TV viewing and other forms
of sedentary entertainment. The goal is to get you
out of your chair and moving. Go for a 10 minute
brisk walk for each 20 minutes of TV viewing. Limit
your TV viewing to no more than two hours a day.
Preventing Childhood Obesity
What's a parent to do ???
MONITORING HEALTHY GROWTH BY TRACKING
Starting at birth, parents should insure their baby's
health care provider uses the pediatric growth charts
to monitor the growth and development of their
baby. Starting at the age of two, parents should ask
that a historical record of their child's BMI Percentile
be started and regularly updated throughout
childhood. Visit the Shape Up America! pediatric BMI
Percentile calculator at
http://www.shapeup.org/oap/entry.php to learn
about an automated system that makes it all easy.
What is BMI Percentile? A child's BMI Percentile offers
a way to compare the growth of your child to the
growth pattern of a large population of healthy
children of the same age and sex. The pediatric
growth charts were derived from and apply to
children of all ethnicities. All children should be
measured (both height and weight) and BMI
evaluated at least yearly.
The BMI is then plotted on the growth chart to
determine the BMI percentile for that child. For
example, a child may be fairly steadily tracking at the
50th percentile for several years in a row. Then he
or she may jump up to the 75th percentile, which
may indicate a problem. A significant change in a
child's BMI percentile may signal a need for
intervention. This should be verified by a properly
trained and qualified health care professional.
If intervention is determined to be appropriate, the
intervention that is recommended should involve the
entire family and all caregivers (grandmothers,
sisters, fathers, etc.) who play a role in shaping the
feeding habits and activity levels of the child. There
is no need to target the overweight child directly for
the purpose of weight management. Targeting the
entire family is less stigmatizing and traumatic for the
child, as well as more effective in the long run.
1. Institute of Medicine. 2005. Preventing Childhood
Obesity: Health in the Balance. Washington, DC: The
National Academies Press, See pages 360 and 361.
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
Parents/Caretakers are the role models for the eating
behavior of their children. That means that the food
and beverage choices of parents/caretakers
represent the single most important influence on
young children's food preferences and choices. To
help children learn to regulate their own intake in a
healthy manner, parents/caretakers should:
- · Allow children to determine their own
portions at meals.
- · Encourage children to pay attention to their
own internal signals of fullness
- · Permit children to decide when they have
finished eating a meal. Do not insist on "cleaning the
- · Avoid using food to manipulate the mood or
behavior of children. For example, avoid using food
(such as candy or ice cream) as a reward. This
practice dissociates eating from hunger and clearly
establishes preferences for those foods used as
- · Make fruits and vegetables readily available
in the home to encourage selection of these foods as
snacks and desserts.
- · Limit calorie dense snacks and sodas of low
- · Offer smaller portions of foods and
encourage going back for seconds if still hungry.
LIMIT RECREATIONAL "SCREEN" TIME (TV, ETC.)
Recreational screen time includes more than just TV
viewing. It includes the viewing of movies, DVDs,
video games, gameboys, and other forms of "screen
time." TV viewing by infants and toddlers should not
be permitted. Removing the television from bedrooms
and reducing all forms of recreational screen time to
less than two hours a day can help prevent
obesity. If parents/caregivers have a TV in the
bedroom or watch more than two hours of TV each
day, this is sending the wrong message to children.
Remember that your actions speak louder than
2. See Golan et al. American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition 1998; 67(6):1130-1135
3. See pages 358-359 in Preventing Childhood
Obesity: Health in the Balance (Ref. 1)
4. This list is taken from page 347 in Preventing
Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance
5. See page 353-357 in Preventing Childhood
Obesity: Health in the Balance