Extension News

We Know What's Good for Us

Lighten Up Iowa web site

1/16/2007

AMES, Iowa--- Losing your resolve to lose weight? Think again. A recent study by ACNielsen found that Americans know full well how to manage their weight.  “The problem is that we don’t follow what we know,” said Ruth Litchfield, Iowa State University Extension nutrition specialist.

In the study, 82 percent of consumers acknowledge that individuals are the most responsible for their own weight gain, not restaurants, fast food companies, etc.

“That doesn’t mean that we should let the food industry off the hook,” Litchfield said. “It is a well-documented fact, that when exposed to environments that are more conducive to better nutrition and physical activity, individual health behaviors are more positive.”

It also doesn’t mean we can’t use some extra help now and then. For example, Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a new online tool to help consumers use the nutrition facts labels on food to choose nutritious foods and manage their weight. You can find “Labelman” on the FDA web site (http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~ear/hwm/labelman.html ).

“Using the nutrition facts labels is a key part of weight management,” Litchfield said. “Many consumers are simply not aware of portion sizes and calories; reading labels will help increase their awareness. ‘Labelman’ helps consumers explore the relationship between serving sizes and calories.”

Other behaviors Americans identify as effective in the battle of the bulge according to the survey and the percent trying and reporting effectiveness include:

Behavior                 % Americans have tried      % reporting effective

Reducing frequency of                 64%                              86%
eating junk food

Taking up a sport, hobby,             32%                              88%
or physical activity

Substituting water for                     54%                              85%
sugary drinks

Reducing meal sizes                     58%                              86%

Increase exercise intensity           46%                              84%
or amount

Lighten Up Iowa is a program that helps individuals identify tips/strategies to successively implement these behaviors. For more information and registration visit: http://www.lightenupiowa.org


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Contacts :
Ruth Litchfield, Ph.D., Food Science and Human Nutrition, (515) 294-9484, litch@iastate.edu
Deborah Martinez, Coordinator of Lighten Up Iowa, (888) 777-8881, deborah@lightenupiowa.org 
Tim Lane, Iowa Department of Public Health, (515) 281-7833, tlane@idph.state.ia.us
Diane Nelson, Communications and Marketing, (515) 294-3178, dinelson@iastate.edu