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NEWS | Jan. 23, 2014

Achieving healthy weight depends on nutritious diet, exercise

By Robert Goetz Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

One of the most common new year's resolutions is to lose weight, but many people try to reach this goal by opting for fad diets, which are often unhealthy and fail to produce long-term results..

During Healthy Weight Month in January, 359th Medical Group professionals recommend that people combine a healthy diet with exercise in their quest to lose weight.

Tech. Sgt. Helen Schlemper, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Health and Wellness Center NCO in charge of health promotions, said people can achieve and maintain a healthy weight by following MyPlate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest nutrition guide.

"People who want to change their eating habits should do it one step at a time," she said. "In our Nutrition 101 class, we teach the MyPlate concept."

MyPlate, which replaced the USDA's food pyramid, depicts a place setting divided into five food groups with fruits and vegetables making up half of a meal and whole grain and proteins the other half, with low-fat or fat-free dairy on the side.

People sometimes try to lose weight by eating less or skipping meals, but Schlemper said that is an unhealthy approach.

"Your body needs fuel," she said. "If we don't eat, our bodies won't go."

Schlemper recommended that people eat more often - three meals and three healthy snacks a day - but limit their portion sizes.

"We as Americans take in way too many calories and are not active enough," she said. "We encourage people to eat one serving from each food group at each meal."

A serving is no more than an amount that can fit in the palm of the hand, usually 3-4 ounces.

Careful planning can help people make healthy choices, whether they're preparing their own meals or going to a restaurant, Schlemper said.

Restaurants typically serve portion sizes that are much larger than a serving, so diners should ask that half their meal be placed in a to-go box before they are served, she said.

"You don't have to have big meals," Schlemper said. "It's the quality of the meal that counts."

Schlemper also recommended healthy substitutions, such as asking for a salad rather than fries and forgoing fried foods.

She said people who wish to attain and maintain a healthy weight should also monitor their calories by reading nutrition information on food labels.

"What we eat impacts calories, which impacts our weight," Schlemper said.

Maintaining a healthy weight is especially important as people age, Jennifer Wetzel, 359th MDG health management registered nurse, said.

"Overweight and obese adults are at greater risk for developing health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea and some types of cancers," she said. "Those adults with a body mass index greater than 30 are considered to be obese."

The medical group's clinical interventions to address obesity include dietary recommendations, exercise and behavior modification, Wetzel said.

"Some patients with a BMI greater than 40 or greater than 35 with obesity-associated conditions may be referred for a bariatric surgery assessment," she said. "All patients are encouraged to exercise at least 150 minutes per week and follow a well-balanced diet. Nutritional supplements and programs that promise quick or effortless weight loss provide only temporary results, if any, and may be unsafe."

During Healthy Weight Month, Nutrition 101, which covers serving sizes, healthy eating, food labels and other topics, will be offered 8-9 a.m. Jan. 28 at the HAWC.