10 Facts About Nutrition, Fitness and Weight

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bad: One in four Americans eats fast food at least once a day.

BAD: Most cereals made for kids contain more calories, sugar and salt and less fiber and protein than other cereals. Most kids' cereals don't meet national school nutrition standards.

Good: Eat according to the colors of the rainbow. The more colors to your food -- such as the reds, oranges, yellows, greens and even blues of fruits and vegetables -- the more important nutrients you'll get.

Good: Your brain depends on your stomach to signal that it's full, but that message takes 20 minutes to be delivered. So slow down during meals, and you'll be less likely to eat too much.

Bad: If you eat even 100 calories more a day than you burn by being active, that "energy gap" could add 10 pounds a year. How much is 100 calories? Half a glazed doughnut.

Good: Almost every day kids should have at least an hour of what the experts call moderate-intensity physical activity such as walking the dog (not slowly), riding your bike or dancing to your favorite songs.

Good: You usually feel happier after playing or exercising because of special chemicals called endorphins that your brain releases while you're moving. Endorphins (pronounced en-DOOR-fins) are a natural mood-booster!

Really bad: Fewer than 1 in 25 elementary schools and fewer than 1 in 13 middle schools in this country provide daily P.E. classes for all students. And many elementary schools have cut out recess.

Do better: States in New England and out west have the most physically active residents; southern states have the most couch potatoes. When the federal government measured this last year, Virginians were slightly more on the move than Marylanders.

Bad: One in three American kids and teens is overweight or heavy enough to be considered obese. (Let's all aim at making ourselves and our friends much healthier!)

-- Susan Levine

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