4 Simple Steps to Help Manage Your Weight

4 Simple Steps to Help Manage Your Weight

Nurses are gaining weight. A study in the International Journal of Nursing Studies shows that the prevalence of overweight among U.S. nurses ranges from 30% to 55%. There are many things that impact a rise of overweight or obesity in nurses including stress in the workplace and shift patterns. In addition, most nurses are not engaged in weight management behaviors.

Maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Here are four simple steps to take to keep a healthy weight.

1. Weigh Yourself Regularly

Weighing yourself daily or weekly provides a sense of accountability and is helpful for maintaining a healthy weight initially. It is a good idea to keep track of your weight so you can plan accordingly and adjust your diet and exercise plan as necessary.

2. Eat Healthy Foods

No matter what shift you take, try to eat your large meal towards the beginning of the shift, which will give you energy to get through the entire shift and to avoid starving yourself. Ensure your meal includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Using online food trackers or apps such as MyFoodDiary or MyFitnessPal are helpful because they enhance your awareness of how much you are really eating. These tools usually provide specific information about how many calories and nutrients you consume. The key to maintaining a healthy weight is getting the right balance between the calories you are consuming and the calories you are spending.

3. Drink An Adequate Amount of Water

Drink water regularly, and before and during meals, which can promote fullness and increase your metabolism. Water can help you burn more calories and also control your appetite if consumed before meals. Bring a water bottle to work and fill it often. Avoid soda and sugary drinks because the extra calories from these drinks can lead to weight gain.

4. Incorporate Natural Exercise into Your Work Days

If you find it difficult to make time to go to the gym or keep up with a regular exercise program outside of work, you should incorporate physical activity into your workday.

Throughout your day, you should try to find as many chances to walk or move as you can, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking around your floor or between buildings, parking your car farther away, and walking during the shift from patient room to room. Hourly rounding to check on your patients, attending to pains, position, and bathroom requests are simple ways to increase your physical activity at work. This also helps to reduce call-bells and improve the nurse-patient relationship.

Genetic research gets a $6.5 million boost

The funding underwrites research regarding the relationship between genetics and aggressive prostate cancer in African Americans, the connection between viruses and cervical cancer, and the role of genes in asthma and obesity among children.

Research has yet to determine why some diseases, like cervical and prostate cancer, disproportionately affect minorities, though it’s often credited to a lack of health care access and information. Could genetics be a signifi – cant factor too? That’s what scientists at Dillard University and the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center are now trying to prove, with help from a $6.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

In particular, the funding underwrites research regarding the relationship between genetics and aggressive prostate cancer in African Americans, the connection between viruses and cervical cancer, and the role of genes in asthma and obesity among children.

Awarded in June, the fi veyear grant will fund genetic research, support community education programs, and sponsor clinical trial recruitment efforts, all among minority communities. The lack of diverse ethnic and racial participation in clinical trials is an ongoing, national problem as well, and researchers must combat lingering mistrust, stemming from improperly conducted research in the past. Nursing students at Dillard, a historically black university, are being specially trained to recruit minorities for their clinical studies.

Rather than stress the racial determinants, researchers hope to pinpoint the key genetic combinations that make people susceptible to certain diseases, regardless of their ethnicity. However, the overarching goal is addressing, reducing, and eliminating health disparities among ethnic groups.

Lunchbox heroes: they don’t want candy

As a partnership between the Healthy Schools Campaign, Chicago Public Schools, the Office of Minority Health, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Heroes for Healthy Schools week-long campaign launched in May in Chicago public schools to revolutionize the way schools and children think about health and exercise in the classroom.

The week’s events were held in Chicago to recognize the city’s public schools’ efforts to change the thinking in low-income minority students about nutrition and fitness. The Heroes for Healthy Schools campaign is a part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program and HealthierUS School Challenge. Chicago adopted the USDA’s food program in its schools in 2010, and was the first major public school system to do so. Chicago public schools have a goal to get at least 100 schools to meet the USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge.

Heroes for Healthy Schools week included visits from Chicago chefs; classroom breakfast initiatives; school-wide fitness challenges; conferences and professional development classes for teachers, administrators, and school nurses; local farm support with “buy local” webinars for low-income families; and meetings for parents to learn about the national initiatives to transform health education in public schools.

Thirty public health educators came to Chicago to run events and programs during the campaign, including Cornell McClellan, the Obama family’s personal trainer, and Tonya Lewis Lee, the official spokesperson for the Office of Minority Health. 

The Office of Minority Health also hosted a screening of Lewis Lee’s documentary Crisis in the Crib: Saving Our Nation’s Babies and a citywide forum on private-public school partnerships to target nutrition and fitness education in children from minority and low-income families.

For more information on Heroes for Healthy Schools week and how you can get involved in your school system’s efforts, visit www.healthyschoolscampaign.org.

Healthier kids’ meals

Child obesity is more of a problem in the United States today than it was a decade ago. Now, Kids LiveWell, a program sponsored by the National Restaurant Association and Healthy Dining, is taking action. USA Today reported more than 15,000 restaurants are now representing healthy eating for kids. Chains such as Burger King, Chili’s, Friendly’s, and IHOP are now featuring kids’ meals that contain no more than 600 calories. USA Today states the lower-fat, lower-sodium meals must have an entrée, side dish, and beverage while still fulfilling the calorie and other nutritional requirements. You can find these healthy meal options with a designated red apple on the menu at participating locations.

Over time, the group hopes to recruit more restaurants to offer healthier kids’ meals, says Dawn Sweeney, President of the National Restaurant Association. There are plans to expand the program throughout the United States in upcoming weeks. Since children get about one-third of their calories from eating at fast food restaurants, having healthier options is very important, says Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The food kids fuel their bodies with at such a young age is going to effect them for the rest of their lives, so it is crucial to not get hooked on junk food.

Depending on the parents’ schedules, some kids eat fast food multiple times a week. Now, Kids LiveWell is making the circumstances a lot easier on families to eat healthily, says Wootan. The program seems to be having a big impact on most restaurant chains, as menus are being modified all over the United States.

To learn more about the Kids LiveWell program and find participating restaurants near you, visit www.healthydiningfinder.com!

Mobility limitations in African Americans linked to depressive symptoms

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has led a study displaying a relation between demographic health issues and mobility limitation. Researchers found that depressed African American women had almost three times the odds of mobility limitations than those who are not depressed. Additionally, African Americans reporting multiple medical conditions tended to have a higher risk of mobility limitations than those with fewer medical conditions. The study can be found in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Gerontology.

The study was conducted with 602 African Americans, made up of men and women between the ages of 48 and 92. The participants previously reported having difficulties walking and climbing stairs. The researchers used logistic regression to measure how demographics and health independently affected mobility. Results proved that pre-existing medical conditions in African Americans were associated with mobility limitations; however, African American women with lower incomes were affected the most.

Roland Thorpe, assistant scientist with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management, says depressive symptoms have not been labeled as a mobility limitation factor in the past, but the studies have begun to prove otherwise. Thorpe says the problem might have been a lack of motivation rather than a mobility limitation; therefore, in order to repair mobility, African Americans must tend to medical conditions right away and control their depressive symptoms.