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A Healthy Sign Obesity Could Be Tamed

Despite our hyper-awareness about the obesity epidemic, are people really listening to all the warnings about the best foods they can eat that would help them live longer, happier lives? Although the obesity numbers are certainly damning, a new British study shows there may yet be hope on the horizon.

A new study has found the diets of most people get healthier as they age from childhood to young adulthood. In fact, adults eat around twice the amount of fruit and vegetables and less fat and sugar than they did as children.

However, the research team also discovered many people perceive barriers to healthy eating. People who took part in the study said parents, partners and children influenced their diet, together with their amount of free time and work patterns. These factors can exert either a positive or a negative effect.

For example, people who saw their parents' influence as positive consumed more fruit and vegetables as adolescents. And whereas a third of people -- mainly men -- felt their partners had a positive influence on their diet. Conversely, 10 percent, mainly women, indicated their partners' influence was negative.

A third of participants blamed a busy lifestyle as a reason for not being able to prepare healthy meals, often because they believed fruit and vegetables needed time for preparation and cooking. These people were more likely to have smaller intakes in fruit and vegetables over the 20 years than those who did not say a lack of time had influenced their diet. However, it was perceived lack of time, rather than actual free time, that influenced people's food choices.

Although general healthy eating messages were getting through to most people, researchers found, they also needed to be more carefully targeted to reach individuals who believe their lifestyle still prevents them from eating well.

If you want to live a healthy life, you'll need to spend some time in the kitchen preparing your own food. There's no doubt that it takes more time and energy to follow a more nutritious eating plan based on your own nutritional type. But the benefits that my patients and I enjoy every day make the extra effort in the kitchen worth it.

EurekAlert September 16, 2004

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