Sunday, August 23, 2009

What could make us eat healthy?

What could make us eat healthy? Better self-evaluation, self-awareness through personal health management tools, says Aurametrix.

Although the majority of Americans acknowledges importance of healthy diets, this does not always translate into behavior change. Taste, preferences acquired during childhood and adolescence, friends and family, and media have more influence on what we eat. In 1997, for example, food manufacturers spent 44.4% of their advertising budget on prepared convenience foods, confectionery and snacks, and bakery goods compared with only 2.2% on fruits, vegetables, grains and beans. Besides, busy people prefer prepackaged foods and restaurant meals, which are not the healthiest choices either.

Healthy eating index (HEI, developed by USDA) is a predictor of childhood diabetes, obesity, and mortality - it's associated with 4 of the 10 leading causes of death (coronary heart disease, certain types of cancer, stroke, and type 2 diabetes).

The quality of the American diet slightly improved since 1989 (the first year the Index was calculated), but flattened since 1996. In 1989 the average HEI score was 61.5, in 1996 and
1999-2000 it was 63.8, a 4-percent increase, but still in the “needs improvement” range. People seemed to be somewhat cutting down on fat, but were consuming even more salt. Excess salt consumption occurs throughout the world. Korean government even developed a salt sensor to help people eat healthier.

US studies of 1999-2000 showed that the two lowest mean scores were for the fruits (3.8) and milk (5.9) components of the HEI: Only 17% of the people consumed the recommended number of servings of fruit per day, and only 30% met the dietary recommendation for milk.

More recent studies on diet quality in Canada display even less optimistic results. Canadians are not eating enough servings of dark green and orange vegetables, as well as of whole fruits and whole-grain products.

Age-dependence show that people adjust their diets once they realize how much better they feel when eat healthy. What exactly is best for an individual may vary - some people can eat foods with high content of saturated fat and cholesterol diet, yet keep normal blood cholesterol.
Others may not realize what exactly they are eating that is not healthy for them.

Self-evaluation tools have been shown to be effective for developing healthy eating habits.
Aurametrix is working on tools to help you evaluate your personal health risks and benefits and make the right health choices.

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