Last month, the president gave his first state of the union address; again, healthcare reform was at the forefront of the political conversation. Nutrition professionals are pleased that, as part of the debate, obesity and obesity-related diseases are finally receiving the press they deserve. Unfortunately, the solution is complex. Perhaps, politicians should take a break from debating, and focus on what the First Lady has been doing. As soon as she and the president set up house in Washington, Michelle Obama planted fruits and vegetables on the south lawn of the White House. Then, last week she launched a new project aimed at fighting childhood obesity, called Let’s Move! (http://www.letsmove.gov). One-third of American children are obese, and the Let’s Move! project plans to end childhood obesity in one generation by focusing in part on physical activity and fresh fruit and vegetable consumption.
Every nutrition professional would agree that fruits and vegetables make up the firm foundation of a healthful diet; they provide water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and a feeling of fullness that prevents overeating. Eating fruits and vegetables has been linked to preventing many illnesses, including overweight and obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases including stroke, cancer, degenerative diseases of the brain, and the list goes on. Everyone should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. And, it’s easy to get started. Start by swapping out one snack for a fresh pear and increasing physical activity to 30 minutes daily. By the end of the week, you and your family will feel better and be effectively improving overall health. Maybe a pear a day won’t keep the doctor away or solve the healthcare debate, but it’s a great start!