Poor nutrition—including over-consumption of high calorie, low nutrition foods and beverages, and foods high in sodium—and low levels of physical activity are leading contributors to some of the most urgent health challenges facing our country today, including obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. [Read abstract Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) ] From 1980 to 2000, obesity rates for adults doubled and rates for children tripled. More than 90% of U.S. adults consume sodium in excess of recommendations by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Fully 81% of U.S. adults do not meet federal guidelines for physical activity and muscle strengthening.CDC has identified nutrition, physical activity, and obesity as Winnable Battles. Progress in these areas is being made by developing policy, systems, and environmental initiatives that help make healthy choices available, affordable, and easy. CDC supports several approaches to improve nutrition and physical activity, including improving the food environments in childcare, schools, hospitals, and workplaces; reducing sodium levels in processed and restaurant foods; eliminating artificial trans fat in the food supply; and increasing opportunities for safe physical activity.
With additional effort and support for evidence-based, cost-effective strategies that we can implement now, we will have a significant impact on our nation’s health. The Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Winnable Battle materials below provide a snapshot of the context and background for this priority area, as well as descriptions of some of the systems, policy, and programmatic interventions pursued by CDC and our public health partners at the federal, state and local levels.
Do you want to improve your heart health but don’t know where to start? You don’t have to make big changes to affect your heart health. Even small, basic steps can have dramatic benefits. The simple Eat 5, Move 10, Sleep 8 plan might be right for you. Learn more from Dr. Rekha Mankad, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist.
I’d like to improve my heart health, but am worried I don’t have the motivation to join a gym or make big diet changes. Any advice?
It’s great that you want to improve your heart health. Don’t think that you have to make big changes to have an effect on your heart health, though. Even small, basic steps can have dramatic effects.
One of the biggest drops in heart disease risk occurs when you go from living a sedentary lifestyle to being active for as little as one hour a week. Obviously, the more active you are, the better. But just one solid hour of activity over the course of a week makes a difference.
Health professionals at Mayo Clinic have developed the Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart Plan. The entire plan is contained in the book “Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life!” But one of the key messages is that even little steps may make a big difference.
Some of these steps for getting started are in a two-week “Quick Start” section of the book termed “Eat 5, Move 10, Sleep 8.” Here’s a summary of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart Plan’s quick start:
Eat 5. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day to boost your heart health. Start by eating breakfast and including at least one serving of fruit or vegetable. Snack on vegetables or fruits in between meals. Make a conscious effort to include fruits and vegetables in your daily meals. Don’t worry so much about foods you shouldn’t eat, just work on getting five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Move 10. Add at least 10 minutes of moderately intense physical activity to what you do every day. Sure government recommendations say 30 minutes or more, but the bottom line is even 10 minutes makes a difference. For example, just 60 to 90 minutes a week of physical activity can reduce your heart disease risk by up to half. That’s a big benefit from a pretty small commitment on your part. It doesn’t have to be elaborate — take the stairs, take a walk, just get moving. As you become more active, you can try to increase your total amount of activity each day.
Sleep 8. Quality sleep is good for your heart. It can be a challenge to make time for good sleep, but it’s important. For two weeks try to get eight hours of good, quality sleep each night. Yes, each person’s sleep needs vary slightly, but eight is a good number to shoot for.
All of these tips — Eat 5, Move 10, Sleep 8 — are meant to be tried for two weeks before you move on to a more established healthy heart plan. But there’s nothing wrong with continuing this quick start for longer periods. Consider trying other reputable diet and exercise plans offered by the American Heart Association and government agencies. The point is to get started with something and keep at it.
Each year, more than 4,500 deaths occur from work-related injuries and 10%–20% of all cardiovascular diseases among working-age people are work-related. Work-related stress is the leading workplace health problem and a major occupational health risk, ranking above physical inactivity and obesity.
What can be done to protect worker health and stem rising healthcare costs?
Many employers and employees understand workplace health and safety programs are opportunities to address these issues, but they lack resources to implement and improve them. As a one-stop website for reliable and easy to use resources, CDC is launching a “Workplace Health Resource Center,” with over 200 resources for employers and employees.
Learn more about how to make workplace health programs work!
Workplace health and safety programs could potentially reach more than 159 million workers across the United States. Join us for this session of Public Health Grand Rounds as experts discuss comprehensive integrated approaches, best practices, and the role state health departments have in the support of workplace health and safety.
Discover opportunities and new tailored programs for small employers. Learn about the new tools and resources CDC offers, and hear about the policy recommendations from the Partnership and Bipartisan Policy Center. Contractors may attend this meeting with the prior approval of their employer.