LOS ANGELES – The release of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 brings welcome advice on: 1) choosing a nutritious diet, 2) maintaining a healthy weight through key weight management strategies and 3) obtaining adequate physical exercise for various stages of the life cycle. This advice is crucial for addressing the overweight and obesity epidemic in Los Angeles County.
Urgency of the Overweight Problem
“More than half (55%) of the Los Angeles County adults are either overweight or obese,” said Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, M.D., Director of Public Health and Health Officer. “Approximately 40% of children and youth in Los Angeles County are either overweight (21%) or at risk of becoming overweight (19%). Overweight and obesity have increased significantly in all age, income, educational, and ethnic groups.”
Obesity and overweight are contributing to the rising rates of diseases associated with obesity, including type 2 diabetes in adults and a recent new trend – type 2 diabetes in children. The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services recognizes the impact that the rising prevalence of obesity and overweight has on the quality of life for Los Angeles County residents and healthcare costs.
“The Health Department will integrate the new Dietary Guidelines into population-based physical activity and nutrition programs to promote health to reduce the upward trend of obesity and overweight in Los Angelenos of all ages, ethnicities, and cultures,” said Johanna Asarian- Anderson, M.P.H., R.D., Director of Nutrition Program.
Healthcare costs related to obesity are great. Overweight and obesity account for an estimated $3.43 billion in healthcare expenditures annually for adults in Los Angeles County. Healthcare spending related to obesity is approximately 9% of total healthcare costs, a rate that rivals tobacco-related healthcare costs. Individual weight loss as little as five to ten pounds can delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, etc. and prevent chronic disease related healthcare costs.
The new Dietary Guidelines represent the federal government’s science-based advice to promote health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases and obesity through nutrition and physical activity. Because of the increase in overweight and obesity nationwide, the new 2005 Dietary Guidelines place a stronger emphasis on calorie control and physical activity.
Below is a sampling of key Dietary Guidelines recommendations that address the obesity epidemic:
• To maintain body weight in a healthy range, balance calories from foods and beverages with calories expended.
• To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity.
• For example, for most adults, a reduction of 50 to 100 calories per day may prevent gradual weight gain. Making smart choices like a lower calorie beverage or snack can prevent the gradual weight gain over time.
• To reduce the risk of chronic disease in adulthood, engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, at work or at home on most days of the week.
• For most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in physical activity of more vigorous intensity or longer duration.
• To help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adulthood, engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric intake requirements.
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines and consumer brochure are available at www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines
Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 3,800 employees.