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May 2011 - Fostering Healthy Behaviors Early

FACT: Juggling the heavy academic demands of college or graduate school with work and family life often leads young adults to burn the candle at both ends. But the downside is that sleep deprivation makes you more susceptible to overeating. Columbia University researchers found that normal-weight men and women consumed 296 calories more on average when they slept for four hours versus when they got a full night's sleep. Overall, most of the extra calories came from high-fat foods such as ice cream and fast foods, which can lead to rapid weight gain.

HOPE: Be sure to have healthy, low-calorie snacks on hand for those unexpected late nights. And if you are trying to lose weight, consider how you can rearrange your schedule so that you can retire earlier or take a nap during the day.

FACT: Researchers from the University of North Carolina followed 14000 American youth from early adolescence to young adult. For nearly all groups surveyed, health behaviors worsened as the youth reached adulthood. By the time they had reached adulthood, the participants were more likely to be obese, to frequently eat fast food, and to be sedentary.

HOPE: Addressing healthy behaviors during adolescence paves the way for a healthier adulthood. One positive change will often cause a cascade of other positive changes. For example, if teens stop drinking coffee, they may sleep better, and, in turn, may not turn to sugary, carbohydrate-laden foods to help them stay away the next day.

FACT: Young adults who go to a religious event at least once a week are 50% more likely to become obese by middle age as young adults with no religious involvement, according to new Northwestern Medicine research based on tracking 3,433 men and women for 18 years. One explanation may be that getting together once a week and associating good works and happiness with eating unhealthy foods could lead to the development of habits that are associated with greater body weight and obesity.

HOPE: Your church can be a trend-breaker! Add healthy selections, including fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, at church gatherings. Better yet, plan meetings around fun, outdoor activities such as intramural sports clubs, hiking, bicycling, work bees, or community service projects.

FACT: A recent survey found that 9 out of 10 U.S. college-age adults think they’re living a healthy lifestyle—even though national statistics show that less than 1 percent is meeting the definition for ideal cardiovascular health. Most recognized the importance of a healthy lifestyle and wanted to live until age 98, but 43% of them didn't worry about heart disease and stroke and one-third didn't think that doing healthy things now, would make any difference in their risk of disease in the future.

HOPE: Lack of time and cost were the most common reasons for not engaging in healthy behaviors. Tailoring health messages and programs to the needs of young adults can increase awareness and help them make the connection between how their behaviors affect their risks for chronic disease. Also consider how your church can support young adults by creating a culture of eating well, being active, and paying attention to our health.

The material in this website is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any illness, metabolic disorder, disease or health problem. Always consult your physician or health care provider before beginning any nutrition or exercise program. Use of the programs, advice, and information contained in this website is at the sole choice and risk of the reader.

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