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7 Health and Nutritional Facts to Celebrate National Nutrition Month

by on March 22, 2012

March is National Nutrition Month and is being hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This theme is dedicated to educating and informing Americans about how they can “get their plate in shape” or eat the right amounts and right types of food in an effort to prevent disease and live a happy & healthy lifestyle.

With so many of us caught up in the daily hustle and bustle of our own lives, you may not realize how unhealthy eating habits are affecting Americans in many aspects. Besides being healthy and living a long life, eating healthy reduces medical costs and time taken away from our daily lives.

Here are 7 health & nutritional facts that you may not know but may open your eyes about how important it is to put nutritional food in your body.

1. More than 1 in 3 U.S. adults (over 72 million people) are obese. Obesity in adults has doubled between 1980 and 2004 according to the Center for Disease and Control. Obesity is heavily associated with a number of increased health risks including certain cancers, hypertension, heart attacks, diabetes and physical disability.

2. 17% of U.S. children are obese.  The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

3. High sugar intake leads to cause to mood swings. Within the first 10 minutes of you drinking a can of soda, 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. Due to sugar’s simple chemical composition, it is digested quickly. A serving of food rich in sucrose can cause a sharp increase in blood sugar that usually follows a sharp decrease due to the body’s release of insulin to even out the blood sugar level.  This sudden increase and fall in blood sugar has been reported to often affect a person’s mood, causing sudden bouts of irritability and fatigue.

4. Medical care costs related to obesity for U.S. adults were estimated to $147 billion.  The most recent study done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2008 estimated that $147 billion in medical care costs were accrued by obese American adults in 2008.

5. Artificial sweeteners usually found in soda make you hungrier. Aspartame and Sorbitol are the most common artificial sweeteners found in most soda and juice “sugar free” products.  Once consumed, these two chemicals trick the brain into making you feel hungry, so even though you think you’re helping your diet by drinking sugar free soda, you are actually hampering it because you will desire more food and drinks and therefore may gain weight instead of losing it.

6. Michael Jacobson coined the term ‘junk food.’ As the director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Mr. Jacobson coined the term ‘junk food’ in 1972 to describe food that provides no nutritional value and typically contains high levels of calorie, little protein value and offers large amounts of salt or sugar.

7. A study shows that constant consumption of junk food alters brain activity. A study by Paul Johnson and Paul Kenny at the Scripps Research Institute (2008) suggested that junk food consumption alters brain activity in a manner similar to addictive drugs like cocaine or heroin.After many weeks with unlimited access to junk food, the pleasure centers of rat brains became desensitized, requiring more food for pleasure. After the junk food was taken away and replaced with a healthy diet, the rats starved for two weeks instead of eating nutritious fare.

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