Obesity Prevention

Obesity Prevention: Balance Food Intake

The second part of the obesity prevention equation is the amount of calories a person consumes. In today's society, people are eating out a lot more and consuming more calories (see Fast Food and Obesity). This is part of the reason why we are seeing an increase in obesity rates. Without a comparable increase in calories burned, people will gain weight.
In order to balance food intake with calories burned, people should begin by selecting a variety of healthy foods, as well as looking at the portion size.
Portion Control
A portion is how much food you choose to eat at one time, whether in a restaurant, from a package, or in your own kitchen. The amount of calories in a portion will vary, depending on what the food is. Generally, the larger the portion, the more calories it contains.
You can keep track of your portions by using a food diary. Writing down when, what, how much, where, and why you eat can help you be aware of the amount of food you are eating and the times you tend to eat too much. This does not mean that you need to keep a food diary for the rest of your life -- you just want to use it long enough to be aware of portion control.

How a Healthy Diet Prevents Obesity

People need to eat a wide variety of foods for good health. In January 2005, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) jointly released the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These new guidelines outlined recommendations to promote health and reduce the risk of chronic disease through nutritious eating and physical activity.
The new guidelines encourage Americans over two years of age to eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods, such as:
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
  • Lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, nuts, and whole grains.
The guidelines also recommend a diet low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
Based on these guidelines, here are some suggestions a person can use to create a healthier diet:
  • Vegetables: Eat more dark green veggies, such as broccoli, kale, and other dark leafy greens; orange veggies, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and winter squash; and beans and peas, such as pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, split peas, and lentils.
  • Fruits: Eat a variety of fruits (whether fresh, frozen, canned, or dried), rather than fruit juice for most of your fruit choices. For a 2,000-calorie diet, you will need 2 cups of fruit each day, like 1 small banana, 1 large orange, and ¼ cup of dried apricots or peaches.
  • Calcium-rich foods: Each day, consume 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk or an equivalent amount of low-fat yogurt and/or low-fat cheese (1½ ounces of cheese equals 1 cup of milk). If you don't or can't consume milk, choose lactose-free milk products and/or calcium-fortified foods and drinks.
  • Grains: Make half your grains "whole." Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice, or pasta every day. One ounce of grains is about 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta. Look to see that grains such as wheat, rice, oats, or corn are referred to as "whole" in the list of ingredients.
  • Protein: Choose lean meats and poultry. Bake it, broil it, or grill it. Vary your protein choices with more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds.
  • Limit saturated fats: Get less than 10 percent of your daily calories from saturated fatty acids. Most fats should come from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. When selecting and preparing meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, make choices that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.
  • Limit salt: Get fewer than 2,300 mg of sodium (approximately 1 teaspoon of salt) each day.
(You can also find more information about healthy food choices by clicking Heart Healthy Foods.)
5 Reasons Your Diet Will Fail

Obesity Epidemic

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