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Tackling 'Globesity,' One Small Step at a Time

Experts Warn of Dangers of Worldwide Obesity Epidemic

One Small Step at a Time continued...

His advice: make small changes that add up to at least 100-200 fewer calories daily. Eat one less cookie, leave a few bites of the fast-food burger, and walk 2,000 more steps each day to help weight maintenance.

Pedometers keep track of how far a person walks or runs. They also keep track of the number of steps a person takes. That -- plus advice to take 10,000 steps a day -- seems to help motivation for people who don't like to exercise.

Changing behavior is admittedly one of the most difficult tasks health care professionals face, panel members told the audience of registered dietitians. "Taking small steps seem to be the most reliant way for doctors and dietitians to help get people to change the way they eat and exercise," says Foreyt.

Everyone is looking for the magic bullet but it does not exist, he says. "It starts and ends with personal responsibility."

Changing the Landscape

Beyond small changes, we need to change the environment in which we live. "We have to create social change in our communities where eating healthy and physical activity are promoted and supported by everyone from health care, schools, local and state government, parks," says Hill.

People have to want social change; it cannot be forced upon them. "If they don't see the value of sidewalks to promote more walking, they won't support it with their tax dollars and it won't become a reality." Healthy foods are being manufactured, as evidenced in the exposition at the meeting, but if consumers don't support the healthier options with their dollars, these healthier options won't be around for long.

Make it easy, convenient and start early to help kids develop healthy eating habits and the enjoyment of physical activity. "The secret sauce is making it fun so it does not feel restrictive or like punishment," says Foreyt. "There will never be a magic bullet for successful weight loss so we need to alter behaviors slowly, gradually and encourage personal responsibility from an early age."

James encouraged food manufacturers and government to subsidize healthy foods and clearly label them so consumers will be more likely to purchase healthier foods. "Using the simple red/yellow/green stop-light approach is one that all consumers understand and would help when making decisions about what foods to purchase."

Things Take Time

Raising awareness is a great place to start to educate people about the perils of obesity and what they can do to improve their health, the panel members say. Beyond raising awareness, Foreyt is an avid believer in the power of keeping records to track food, activity, and weight.

Dietitians at the meeting were challenged to look for ways to play key roles in changing the landscape of globesity and inspiring people to make sustainable changes that will not only reduce the incidence of obesity but improve the health of the world.

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