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Celebrate Food Day with a Personal Change to a Healthier Diet

Food Day 2012, obesity, nutrition, world hunger

The foods we eat should feed our bodies and bolster our health, but instead, many Americans eat a diet that is contributing to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year from heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Food Day, created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is a nationwide celebration toward more healthy, affordable, and sustainable foods. Start your own personal campaign today by making a pledge toward changing your own eating habits!

Annually, on October 24th, a diverse coalition of food organizations set out to address issues such as promoting safer and healthier diets, reducing hunger, supporting sustainable agricultural practices and striving for fair working conditions for food and farm workers. The aim is to transform the American diet into one that is a positive effort toward feeding the world healthful foods instead of junk such as processed foods and fast food.

CSPI reminds us that two-thirds of American adults and one-third of children are overweight or obese. The annual costs for diseases related to obesity and poor diets are around $147 billion and account for 300,000 deaths per year. Unfortunately, a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the problem isn’t going away, but instead worsening.

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In every state, at least one in five individuals is obese. Mississippi and Louisiana have the highest rate of residents who are overweight, but in all 39 states out of 50 have a prevalence of 25% or more (one in four).

On the other end of the spectrum are those who are “food insecure” or near hunger. About 50 million Americans fall into this category, including many children and senior adults. Keep in mind that these people are not always underweight. Not having enough money for healthful foods makes one seek out cheap, overly-processed food. Instead of a fresh cut of lean meat or poultry, for example, they will spend what little they have on 99 cent bologna or hot dogs.

The average monthly SNAP (food stamp) benefit is just $287 per household, or $4.30 per person each day – barely enough for a decent meal. About 11% of the poorest Americans live in “food deserts,” locations where there is no easy access to a grocery store. Many of these people buy food from convenience stores, which are not known for fresh produce.

Make a change today in your own life to create a lifestyle that supports personal health and the health of those around you. Here are some steps you can take today to promote the efforts of Food Day:
• Aim to eat at least five (or more!) servings of fruits and vegetables today and for the rest of the week. 80% of children do not get the recommended amount, so do the same for your family today too.
• Do you drink soft drinks? About 46% of our added sugar intake comes from sugary drinks such as colas. Skip them for today. Then see if you can sustain that tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…
• Plant a garden and grow your own foods. Or visit a farmers markets to support your local farmers and get the freshest foods possible.
• Hold your own Food Day “event” in your home. Sit the family down to a healthful home-cooked meal and have a conversation with your kids about the importance of a nutritious diet.
• Write or call your local US congresspersons and ask them to support increased funding for healthy food initiatives, including promotions of fruits and vegetables and campaigns against junk food.
• Become aware of the prevalence of hunger in your local area and seek out ways you can help. Perhaps donating to a soup kitchen or an organization that supports feeding the hungry or getting families back on their feet after hardship. Winter is coming, and many people will be seeking shelter from the weather. These shelters are always in need of food donations.
• Does your child’s school hold efforts to support healthful food practices? If not, seek out the principal or other administrator to make changes such as starting a school garden, becoming involved in a farm-to-school program, or improving the curriculum to include nutrition and physical activity education.

Resources: Food Day 2012