January 30, 2009

Managing Your Weight Starts Now

By Jennifer Ledet
SDSU Graduate Student of Public Health

Now that 2009 has begun, many people are starting to follow through on their New Years’ resolutions to lose weight. Weight loss tops the list for New Year’s resolutions. Gyms sell more memberships in January than any other time of the year and fad diet books fly off the shelves. However, by the end of the month, most New Years’ resolutions will have failed. So, how can you make a long-term commitment to manage your weight and improve your health?

The key to weight management is lifestyle change, and the two main ways you can make that change is through engaging in physical activity and making nutritional food choices.

According to the American Heart Association, over 70 percent of Mexican Americans age 20 and older are either overweight or obese, 10 percent more than the US population in general. The disproportionate effect of obesity on the Latino community contributes to health disparities through increased risk of developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other leading causes of death.

So, how can you keep yourself and your family healthy? Start a physical activity routine! Even on a limited budget and with a busy schedule there are many easy ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.

1. Go outside. Instead of watching T.V. with your family, take a walk or play a game. If you don’t know where to go for a walk, visit the San Diego Prevention Research Center’s community resource guide (http://www.sdprc.org/resourceguide.php) for free and low cost physical activity resources near you.

2. Join or start a physical activity group at work or at your church. Having a group of people to support your weight management will help you achieve your weight goals. Reports by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) show that just 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a day, five times per week can greatly reduce your risk of diseases such as diabetes.

3. Another essential step to weight management is making nutritional food choices. Cooking healthier foods does not mean you have to spend more money or abandon your favorite dishes. The Latino Nutrition Coalition (www.latinonutrition.org) offers Latino recipes that are both healthy and flavorful.

After making progress in managing your weight, you may want to learn whether you are in a healthy weight range. BMI stands for body mass index. It is a number based on a calculation of a person’s weight and height. BMI is a useful index to estimate weight categories. If you fall within the categories of overweight and obese, this indicates you are at a greater risk for heart disease and diabetes. To calculate your BMI in English or Spanish go to: www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi

So, there is no excuse now not to start the New Year off right by helping yourself and your loved ones manage their weight! You will contribute to a healthier Latino community and live a longer, happier life.

For other information about physical activity programs in South bay San Diego, please contact us at: Familias Sanas y Activas (619) 594-2965. This health tip is brought to you by the San Diego Prevention Research Center.

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