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Prairie Fare: Spring Toward Better Health

Julie Garden-Robinson Julie Garden-Robinson
With spring just around the corner, we’re inundated with advertisements for weight loss supplements and programs.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

“I used to be a size 12,” my 12-year-old son said in a high voice, hands on hips.

“Now I’m a size 2! Look at my old jeans!” my 9-year-old daughter said in an even higher voice, throwing her hands in the air.

I almost fell off the couch laughing at my two comedians mimicking the weight loss ads on TV.

“I’m so tired of all these weight loss ads!” my son exclaimed.

“I think we’ve all seen them too much. Staying at a healthy weight is important, though,” I noted.

I probably should have gotten off the couch as I reminded them about the importance of fitness.

Weight loss is a multibillion dollar business. We’re reminded regularly by news articles that two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese. With spring just around the corner, we’re inundated with advertisements for weight loss supplements and programs.

After a long, cold winter, we’ll be peeling off bulky sweaters and heavy coats soon. We might discover there’s “more of us to love” when we try on our spring and summer clothing.

What is a healthy weight, anyway? Many health-care professionals use body mass index or BMI. To figure out your BMI, you’ll need a calculator. Multiply your weight in pounds by 703, and then divide the total by your height in inches. Divide that total by your height in inches again.

A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight and a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.

You may think that achieving health benefits requires a major weight loss. That’s not always the case. Researchers have shown that, for overweight individuals, a 5 percent to 10 percent weight loss can lower the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. For example, losing 10 pounds is a 5 percent loss for a 200-pound person.

The location of excess body fat also makes a health difference. Many women tend to gain weight in their hip/thigh area, resulting in a pearlike body shape. Many men, on the other hand, tend to gain weight in their abdominal area, resulting in an applelike shape.

The bad news for apples: This body shape is associated with a greater risk for disease, especially heart disease.

You can do a quick assessment with a tape measure or a check of the waist measurement of your jeans if you wear your pants around your natural waist and not under the belly.

Women with waist measurements greater than 35 inches and men with waist measurements greater than 40 inches may face more health risks.

March is designated as National Nutrition Month by the American Dietetic Association. Use March as a springboard toward healthier food and fitness habits.

Visit to assess your current eating habits and to get a food plan to maintain your current weight or to lose weight.

Invest in some walking shoes and aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on five or more days of the week. Try for at least 60 minutes if weight loss is your goal.

We at the NDSU Extension Service are interested in knowing your opinions about nutrition/health issues. We have created an online survey for men. To participate, go to Click on Nutrition Resources and then Men's Online Survey. We’ll use the results to identify or develop health-related materials for men.

Try to squeeze more veggies into your diet during March. Enjoy them with this tasty dip.

Curry Veggie Dip

1 c. nonfat sour cream

1 c. nonfat yogurt

1 Tbsp. curry powder

Mix the ingredients. Refrigerate for two hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve with assorted veggies, such as carrots, broccoli and cauliflower.

Makes 16 2-tablespoon servings. Each serving has 20 calories, 0 grams (g) of fat and 4 g of carbohydrate.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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