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New Year, Nutrition
Obesity rates in the United States are on the rise, and Louisiana is no exception. We're getting fatter. A recent report by Trust for America's Health says that two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight and almost one-third are obese. Louisiana ranks fourth highest in the nation for adult obesity at 28.2 percent, and ninth for overweight youth between the ages of 10 and 17 with 17.2 percent falling into that category.

To help Louisianans kick off the New Year with a new diet and a solid plan for healthy weight loss, LSU's AgCenter has put together the Smart Portions Healthy Weight Program. The program provides the latest in research-based information and recommendations while helping participants set realistic goals for better health by learning to balance proper nutrition with appropriate physical activity.

"Eating fewer calories while increasing physical activity are the keys to controlling weight," says Dr. Beth Reames, a nutritionist with the LSU AgCenter. Cutting as little as 100 calories per day can lead to weight loss of as much as 1 pound per month, and just 30 minutes of physical activity per day can help reduce the risk of heart disease, Type II diabetes and obesity, she says. For more information on the Smart Portions Program, visit: www.lsuagcenter.com. — Andert

The Smoke Has Cleared
Today (Jan. 1) is the one-year anniversary of the Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act, which eliminated smoking in most work and public places throughout the state, including restaurants. In just a year, Louisiana has seen drastic improvements in both air-quality issues as well as participation in smoking-cessation programs.

The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living estimates that restaurants had eight times more indoor air pollution before the act was implemented last year than they do today. Likewise, indoor air pollution levels in smoke-free restaurants are 91 percent lower than those in bars where smoking is allowed, according to an air-quality study the group conducted in conjunction with the LSU School of Public Health.

Meanwhile, more than 7,100 local smokers have taken advantage of programs like the Louisiana Tobacco Quitline (800-QUIT-NOW), which offers free medical advice and information on stop-smoking resources such as the Tobacco Control Initiative and the Freedom From Smoking Clinics. The later organization offers free walk-in assistance and group therapy for people who need to jump-start their cessation plan.

For more information on local services and Tobacco-Free Living, visit www.tobaccofreeliving.org. — Andert

Don't Let Them Fade Into the Past
For many people, the holidays allow families who live apart a chance to get together and share in the joy of the season, recalling memories of the past and creating new ones. For some of the elderly, those remembrances may be fading because of Alzheimer's disease.

The Louisiana Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association reports that during the holidays each year it experiences a hike in calls to its 24/7 hotline (800-272-3900) by concerned family members. In 2006 that increase was 34 percent .

"As families gather, they may notice changes in loved ones that might not have been visible the year before," says Robert Stephens, executive director of the Louisiana Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. "We provide support services to the entire state, and the helpline staff offers confidential care consultation from master's level clinicians who can help with decision-making support, crisis assistance and education issues families and caregivers face each day."

The association cautions families to prepare for a post-holiday letdown, a situation that can affect the person with Alzheimer's as well as the caregiver. It suggests that a caregiver handle the stress by allowing for some time away from their duties, so they can have lunch with a friend or enjoy a movie. To ease the Alzheimer's patient through the rough time, buy them useful gifts such as comfortable clothing, music, videos and photo albums.

Because six out of 10 people with Alzheimer's tend to wander, the association offers Safe Return ID bracelets to ensure the patients make it back home. Visit www.alz.org/louisiana for more information. — Winkler-Schmit

More than 7,100 local smokers have taken advantage of free quit-smoking programs since the Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act was implemented a year ago.
  • More than 7,100 local smokers have taken advantage of free quit-smoking programs since the Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act was implemented a year ago.

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