Get Movin' with "America on the Move" | The Family Fork

Get Movin' with "America on the Move"

I've been a little bit out of the loop the last few days because I've been attending a conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. I know, nobody feels sorry for me. Admittedly I have been taking time to enjoy the ocean sand and beautiful sunsets. But believe it or not I have been attending the actual conference and wanted to share some of that with you (while I enjoy the view from my hotel room... ok I'll stop).

I am at the American Dietetic Association's annual conference where every thing you can imagine about nutrition is being discussed and analyzed. Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Dr. James Hill who is quite the pioneer in the fight against childhood obesity. He has done a lot of research in this area and just released the results of a program called America on the Move Family Study. It's pretty interesting stuff.

Dr. Hill is all about prevention and in this study the aim was to prevent overweight children from gaining additional weight by making small lifestyle changes targeted at the whole family. Drastic lifestyle changes are rarely sustainable in the long term but small changes can be. Families in the study were asked to eliminate 100 calories from their daily diets and to add 2000 steps into their day to increase physical activity. Not a lot to ask.

And how did they do this? The families decreased their sugar intake by substituting the no calorie sweetener sucralose in many of their sugary beverages and foods. They also kept a food journal to keep track of their daily intake. (The kids apparently had no trouble switching to drinks and foods sweetened with sucralose). To increase their daily steps by 2000 they were given tips such as take family walks together, do jumping jacks in front of the TV, walk the dog, walk to school etc. There was a control group also and they were told only to monitor their physical activity and keep food journals.

Turns out families in both groups benefited. Just keeping track of food intake and physical activity seemed to work and sparked the families to make healthier choices overall. After six months more than half of the families who were just using the tracking methods and two-thirds of the families using sucralose and walking 2000 extra steps a day, had children who actually reduced their Body Mass Index (a measurement of appropriate weight for height) or maintained it. The small changes worked!

America on the Move is really an exciting program that you and your family can get enrolled in right now online! I encourage you to check out the website and get yourself and your kids enrolled and start moving (literally) towards a healthful lifestyle. As for decreasing sugar intake, when I get back from Hawaii I’m going to put up a post all about ‘rethinking your drink’ and what kind of options are out there that are either sugar free or low in sugar. In the meantime Get Moving!

Click here to get to America on the Move.
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.