By Julie Humphreys, Step UP Director
Courtesy of Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living Magazine February 2012
If there’s one thing we can all relate to, it’s food! In fact it’s safe to say most of us spend a good portion of each day either eating, thinking about eating, shopping for and preparing what we eat, and many times stressing about what we eat (too much, too little, bad food choices). Face it; we are a nation consumed by FOOD! And many of us consume far too much food.
The Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports at the beginning of the 21st century Americans were consuming more food and several hundred more calories per person per day than did our counterparts in the late 1950’s (when per capita calorie consumption was at its lowest level in the last century). In 2000 the average per person per day calorie intake was 2,700. That’s an increase of more than 24-percent, or roughly 530 calories between 1970 and 2000. The latest available numbers for 2008 show the average intake still around 2,700. But while the per person per day calorie number has remained steady in the past decade, we are still getting heavier. How? Factor in our inactivity and those calories just sit there, as we just sit there, to be stored as fat!
The obesity epidemic is the number one public health problem in our country. A third of our population is obese, another third is overweight for a total of some 66-percent of us who are either overweight or obese. And it’s not just about how many calories we eat, it’s about what type of calories we eat, and it’s very much about how little we move our bodies. We are a nation of sedentary people. Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention broadened its definition of physical activity to include lifestyle activities like walking and gardening, most Americans still don’t meet minimum exercise recommendations. That is, 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity most, if not all days of the week. Only about 25-percent of adults report meeting the recommended activity guidelines.
Health care professionals across the country have been hard at work over the past decade-plus trying to find the right message to educate and encourage people to change their lifestyle habits on food and activity. One of the newest and simplest concepts is some variation of what’s called 5210. It stands for 5 fruits and vegetables a day, no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time, 1 hour of physical activity – half of it cardiovascular, and 0 sugary drinks. Simple concept, easy to implement, and effective say supporters. The greater Portland, Maine area has adopted the concept and more recently the city of Tacoma, Pierce County in Western Washington. Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS) in conjunction with Step UP Spokane, a community effort to encourage better health, will roll out a version of 5210 in the Inland Northwest early this year. These groups will add an 8 to the formula for 8 hours of sleep. Lack of sleep has a direct correlation to obesity. Spokane’s 85210 is really a call to action with a message to move on. It’s easy to understand and can be done without measurements in contrast to calorie counting or body mass index (BMI). It gives people 5 simple things they can do for better health. The message can easily be adapted and adopted in health care clinics, hospitals, schools, community centers, etc.
That’s why Emily Fleury, Director of the Health Training Network and Community Wellness at INHS, likes the concept. “It’s a call to action in a way that’s easy and understandable. I’m a mom, I think about can I go home and do this?” 5210 is a concept that health professionals from public health, hospitals, government, and private sector have been working on since October of 2011. It’s an effort to link primary care, community, public health, and others together to fight the obesity epidemic with an emphasis on children’s health care. Fleury attended a workshop in Tacoma recently on 5210 and is excited for INHS to bring the concept to Spokane “I feel it would drastically help this community. The idea is that you don’t have to change every single thing in your life, but these are 5 things you can do that will make a lasting change in your health.”
Drastically may be an understatement. Consider each 85210 point.
First, 8 hours of sleep. That was slightly UNDER the average 50 years ago when Americans got 8 ½ hours a sleep a night and our obesity rate was about 12 percent. Today we are averaging 6 ½ hours of sleep and our obesity rate is more than 30 percent. Blame hormones. Studies show when we don’t get enough sleep, the hormone that tells our brains we’re hungry increases while the one that tells us we’ve had enough decreases. So when we don’t sleep enough we feel hungry even when we’ve had enough to eat. Additionally when we are chronically sleep deprived our bodies release more of the stress hormone cortisol. When that happens, we crave high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods to increase our serotonin levels which calm us down. Studies show adults who sleep fewer than 6 hours a night have a much higher risk of being overweight or obese than people who get adequate sleep. Cynthia Tatro, a registered respiratory therapist and registered sleep technician at Deaconess Hospital’s sleep lab offers these tips for getting good sleep.
- Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
- Develop good bedtime routines like listening to quiet music, reading and brushing your teeth.
- Avoid computers and television right before bed. Tatro says the lights on the computer screen in particular can upset our circadian rhythms and then we’re too wired to sleep.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco before bed.
Next, eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day. Fruits and veggies contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that help fill you up while being low in calories. They also protect you from chronic diseases like stroke, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers as well as protect vision and control high blood pressure. But no single fruit or vegetable provides all the nutrients you need so eating a variety is very important. Here are some tips to help ensure you get your fruits and veggies.
- Keep fruit out where you can see it.
- Eat a fruit and vegetable with every meal and for between meal snacks.
- Explore the produce isle and choose something new.
- Make it a meal, try a recipe where veggies are the focus.
No more than 2 hours of recreational screen time a day. A 2010 Neilson report shows children ages 2 to 11 watch more than 25 hours of (non-prerecorded) television a week, which boils down to 3 and a half hours a day. And that’s just TV, factor in computers, and video games and time in front of a screen increases substantially. The numbers for adults aren’t much better especially considering many of us spend most of our work time on computers. The health effects are obvious, if we are sitting for hours on end, we are not moving. Here’s how the Mayo Clinic says we can reduce screen time for ourselves and our children.
- Eliminate background TV.
- Keep TVs and computers out of the bedroom.
- Don’t eat in front of the TV; the habit encourages mindless munching which can lead to weight gain.
- Suggest other activities and then participate in them with your child, be a good example.
- Make TV and computer viewing an event, not an everyday norm.
One hour of physical activity a day with at least 30 minutes cardiovascular activity. The benefits of regular physical activity are well documented and regular physical activity is now a touchstone for most all health prescriptions. Consider the benefits; weight control, decreased risk of chronic disease and health conditions, improved mood and energy, better sleep, just to name a few. Now consider the facts about physical activity from research gathered by the US Department of Health and Human Services for the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: for most health outcomes, additional benefits occur as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency, and/or longer duration; both aerobic and strength training with resistance are necessary to get maximum benefits; health benefits occur for every age group, even older adults, and for every race and ethnic group and for the disabled; and the benefits of physical activity far outweigh the possibility of adverse outcomes.
Finally, 0 sugary drinks a day. That’s right zero, zip, none! A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that on any given day, half of the people in the U.S. guzzle a sugary drink like soda, sports drinks, juice, sweetened bottled water, or coffee drinks loaded with syrup and other sweeteners. That means 175 extra daily calories for men and 94 for women. Nearly two-thirds of all teens and young adults drink a sugar filled beverage every day, making them the most frequent consumers. The concerns are obvious, weight gain, little to no nutritional value (empty calories), and precursor to disease. A study published in 2010 shows even 1 can of soda a day can increase your risk of diabetes. It documented that people with a daily habit of one or two sugar sweetened drinks a day (energy drinks, to sweet tea, to vitamin water) were 25-percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than were their counterparts who drank no more than one sugary drink a month. Dr. Hrair Garabedian, a pediatric cardiologist at Providence Sacred Heart’s Children’s Hospital believes we could decrease 25-30 percent of our obesity and overweight problem simply by eliminating all sugary drinks. He points out studies that show the majority of extra calories in children ages 2 to preteen come from liquid candy (sugary drinks). Dr. Garabedian advocates water, water, and water, and milk only if it’s part of a meal like a food. Registered Dietitians recommend low fat or nonfat milk as a great nutrient rich beverage choice to get needed bone-building calcium, vitamin D and protein to support lean muscle mass.
The ideas behind the 85210 education campaign have been studied and deemed best practices by health advocates from around the country. The ideas are well received by health professionals from the Centers for Disease Control, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the National Initiative for Children’s Health Care Quality and others. The hope now is the concept will be equally as well received by the public. Fleury, the Spokane health educator in charge of implementing 85210 thinks the message gives people their best chance of success in living healthier lives because it addresses two key health concerns. “Nutrition alone won’t fix our obesity problem, physical activity alone won’t solve it, it has to be both”. Asked how this message differs from other nutrition and activity messages she says “It’s the same message, but this is packaged up in an easy to understand way. If you tell me to eat more whole grains, I don’t know what that means. This is tangible and simple. It’s messaging you can do at home and at work. There will be an online resource guide you can download and take home with you to make changes at home. Worksites can use it to make changes at work, community churches can use it. It gives you tools, it’s not telling you how to do it, it’s a community message, a lifestyle.”
Lifestyle change is the mantra for 2012. Health experts say it’s exactly how we will combat our obesity and overweight problem. It’s not simply a matter of eliminating one food or “dieting” for the New Year. It’s an overhaul of how we as Americans do things. It’s getting out of our cars, off our computers, and back to the basics of walking every day, everywhere we can. It’s eating well to live and enjoy. And it’s intentional, every day until it becomes the new societal norm.
Courtesy of Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living Magazine February 2012