Wednesday, August 24, 2016

An Hour a Day May Keep the Doctor Away

Although the phrase “sitting is the new smoking” is a bit sensationalized, it does make a great argument for remaining active in our ultra-convenient, modern world. Inactivity is a dangerous lifestyle factor, greatly increasing the risk of chronic disease and even the risk of an early death. Thankfully, this risk factor is a modifiable behavior.

Some health recommendations for physical activity are to walk 10,000 steps a day or to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, but can these recommendations undo the damage sitting all day does to our bodies? A recent meta-analysis published in The Lancet looked into this question to determine how much physical activity it would take to reduce these health risks -- if that was even possible.

Thankfully, the results were promising: the analysis concluded that 60 to 75 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (e.g., walking at 3.5 mph) per day was sufficient enough to reduce the risk of early death associated with sitting for over eight hours per day.

On a similar note, a recent study looked at blood glucose levels in sedentary, overweight and obese individuals, particularly those who sit for at least eight hours a day at their job. It was found that those who moved just a little more than average, or even broke up their sitting with standing periodically, saw decreased blood glucose levels throughout the day. The activities implemented during the study included slow walking or pedaling at a treadmill desk or stationary work bike. 

Bottom Line: The gym isn’t the only way to combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle or the 9 to 5 office job. An hour of walking throughout the day can greatly reduce your risk of chronic disease or early death. Walking to work, at lunch or during meetings is an easy way to increase your steps during the workday.

Visit Wellness Workdays for more information about our worksite wellness programs. 

New GMO Food Labeling Laws: What to Expect

On July 29th, President Obama signed the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 into law. This act addresses foods produced with genetic modification, most commonly known as GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Although there is no substantial evidence to support or denounce the safety of genetically modified foods, this act has sparked much controversy in the anti-GMO community, which has nicknamed the legislation the DARK (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act.

Despite your personal stance on genetically modified foods, every American should be informed about what to expect regarding the newly passed law. Here are some key facts:

1) Within two years after the law is enacted, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will create a mandatory bioengineered food labeling program. Currently, there is a widely known non-profit company that conducts their own third-party GMO labeling, called the Non-GMO Project. Critics of the bill are saying that the USDA’s certification process will be much less rigorous than that of the Non-GMO Project in terms of testing and segregation.
2) The newly passed law will override Vermont, Connecticut and Maine’s new laws requiring the labeling of foods produced with genetic engineering. Every state will have to comply with the national labeling standards.
3) Companies will be given a choice about how to label their packages if their products contain GMOs. This may include using text, a symbol, an electronic/digital link (e.g., QR code) or phone number consumers can call for more information. You can find QR code reading apps for your smart phone on the App Store or Google Play.
4) Not all foods made with GMOs will be required to be labeled. For example, animal products produced by animals who were fed genetically modified substances will not have to be labeled as containing GMOs.

Bottom Line: Although the jury is out on the safety of GMOs, it’s never a bad idea to be an informed consumer. Be sure to keep up with the many changes to come with the USDA’s new bioengineered food labeling program.

Visit Wellness Workdays for more information about our worksite wellness programs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

“Nudging” Your Way to Healthier Food Choices

Is it possible to change our food choices by making it more difficult to reach the less nutritious option? Studies suggest it is. At home, and particularly at restaurants, people are more likely to choose the healthy option when it is closer in proximity to them or presented first.

“Food nudging” is a new tool used to promote healthy eating in any setting. Think about that bread basket we all know and love; placing the bread basket further away at the table and ordering a vegetable platter to place closer to you is one example of food nudging. This theory works with the subconscious; you must reach past the healthy option in order to get the alternative. Another method is to place the more nutritious options on the table and leave the less nutritious options in the kitchen so you must physically get up and walk to the kitchen to indulge.

This isn’t to say that the alternative foods shouldn’t be eaten, however, they should take up a smaller portion on your plate. If you always reach for seconds, you may want to rethink how you set dishes on the table. Changing the location of dishes can encourage you to choose the closer, more nutritious option.

The impact of food nudging requires more research but offers a promising way to present a multitude of food options while guiding people to opt for the more nutritious choice.

Bottom Line: If you’re trying to make healthier food choices at home, try setting your table so that the nutritious option is closer and the less nutritious options are further away. This food nudging technique may help you enjoy the foods you love without overindulging.

Source 1 Source 2

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