National Nutrition Month


What should all of us know about proper nutrition in our everyday diets?

Good nutrition is essential in keeping current and future generations of Americans healthy across their lifespan. The availability of healthy, affordable foods contributes to a person’s diet and risk of related chronic diseases. For example, obesity is a common, serious, and costly chronic disease. The medical definition of obesity is weighing more than 20% (for men) or 25% (for women) over their ideal weight determined by height and build.

Being obese puts people at risk for many serious chronic diseases and increases the risk of severe illness. Everyone has a role to play in turning the tide against obesity and its disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minority groups. A recent study on adult obesity shows that obesity remains high – nineteen states and two territories currently have an obesity prevalence at or above 35%, more than doubling from 2018. The 2021 states and territories include Iowa, Kansas,  Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota among others.

How does obesity play a role in a body’s ability to fight off illnesses and diseases?

The obesity rate in Crawford County is 34%, which means that one in three people in Crawford County would be considered obese. Adults with excess weight are at even greater risk from several chronic conditions and  respiratory illnesses. Because of impaired immune function, decreased lung capacity and reserve, the risks of hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, invasive mechanical ventilation, and death are higher with increasing body mass index (BMI). Research estimates that 30% of all hospitalizations can be attributed to obesity. Children diagnosed with obesity may suffer worse outcomes from a variety of childhood illnesses including influenza, RSV, and COVID. Obesity also is a main contributing factor to developing diabetes, and heart disease.

What are some ways people can make quick changes to their diets to help control their weight?

  • Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains as well as the appropriate amount of calories is important for your health and can help with weight loss and preventing weight gain. 
  • Good nutrition can help support optimal immune function. A healthy diet can help prevent or support self-management of diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Be active. People who do little or no physical activity are more likely to get sick than those who are physically active. Regular physical activity helps you feel better, sleep better, and reduce anxiety. It can also help with preventing weight gain and when combined with calorie reduction, helps with weight loss. Physical activity can also help prevent diseases that increase a person’s chances of having severe illness such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Emerging research suggests it may also help boost immune function.
  • Get enough sleep. Insufficient sleep has been linked to depression, as well as chronic diseases that may increase the risk of severe illness.
  • Coping with stress. Stress can sometimes cause changes in sleep or eating patterns, increased use of alcohol and tobacco, or worsening of chronic health problems. Over time, managing stress can help individuals with obesity improve their overall health. And if they result in even modest weight loss, there are health benefits, such as improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugars. And with a healthy BMI, the risk of severe illness is reduced.

What about is a good diet for children?

Good nutrition is important for young children’s health. Dietary guidelines support daily intake of fruits and vegetables and limited intake of sugar-sweetened beverages. Many children aged 1–5 years, are not eating fruits and vegetables daily and are regularly drinking sugar-sweetened beverages. In 20 states, more than one half of children did not eat a vegetable daily during the preceding week. In 40 states and the District of Columbia, more than one half of children drank a sugar-sweetened beverage at least once during the preceding week. Emphasizing the importance of healthy dietary practices that affect young children could improve their nutrition and support optimal growth and health.

What are some ways to help people come up with a better diet plan for themselves and their family?

  • Plan weekly meals ahead of time by writing out the ingredients you’ll need for each meal. This will help you meet all five food groups and can double as a grocery list for easy shopping.
  • Use FDA’s Nutrition Facts label when grocery shopping to compare ingredients in different food items. Select items that have higher amounts of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber and lower amounts of sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars.
  • Use to create healthy, complete meals that cover all five groups. Check the free MyPlate Kitchen resource for over 1,000 healthy, inexpensive, and tasty recipe ideas.
  • Calorie labeling on menus can help you make informed and healthful decisions about meals and snacks.
  • Eat smart by monitoring calorie intake and portion sizes using the Nutrition Facts label alongside MyPlate.

To find out more about how a better diet can help improve your health, contact your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, call the CCMH Medical Clinic at 712-265-2700 to schedule a consultation.