From diet to pregnancy to oral and mental health, the Office of Women’s Health hosts a week filled with events and education initiatives to get women proactive about their well-being.
There are many aspects of health to consider when working towards optimal living. Daily pressures coupled with busy schedules often means that we’re putting our health last on the priority list.
This week offers the perfect opportunity to put a spotlight on your health and well-being, to hopefully learn something new that will inspire you to embrace a healthier lifestyle.
Here are 5 things you need to know about women’s health to start:
Nearly 2 out of 3 women 20yrs and older are overweight or obese. Studies with Mexican-American women show that they are 40% more likely to be obese than their white counterparts.
Less than half of US women are getting enough aerobic exercise and only 20% are doing muscle-strengthening activity, making women more likely to develop heart disease and cancer (along with contributing to obesity and diabetes). Latinos are 30% less likely to engage in exercise than their white counterparts.
Smoking causes 80% of lung cancer deaths among women in the US. On the plus side, Latinas have lower smoking rates comparably, and they’re less likely to smoke during pregnancy.
Women are much more likely than men to be diagnosed with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental illnesses. According to the CDC, Latina teens are the most likely group to consider suicide.
Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the US, with over 75% of women 40-60 yrs old having at least one risk factor. On average, Latinas are more likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than their white counterparts.
Did any of these facts surprise you? What will you change to lead a healthier life?
The Office of Women’s Health also put together these great infographics with helpful tips on how to take care of yourself in all aspects of health.
Don’t save that red dress for Valentine’s day. Flaunt that color today, National Wear Red Day to help raise awareness about women’s heart health as part of the National Heart Health initiative by the American Heart Association this month.
You may not realize it, but heart disease is not just a problem for men. Take a look at this graphic below, courtesy of the American Heart Association:
High cholesterol, family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity are all contributors that increase your risk for heart health problems, in both men and women. But what makes women susceptible than men?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the risk factors for heart disease vary from men on these points:
Metabolic syndrome — a combination of fat around your abdomen, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high triglycerides — has a greater impact on women than on men.
Mental stress and depression affect women’s hearts more than men’s. Depression makes it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow recommended treatment, so talk to your doctor if you’re having symptoms of depression.
Smoking is a greater risk factor for heart disease in women than in men.
Low levels of estrogen after menopause pose a significant risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease in the smaller blood vessels (small vessel heart disease).
Latinas are at an even greater risk for heart disease than their white counterparts. Higher rates of diabetes, obesity, and inactivity within the Latino community increase the likelihood of poor heart health and may lead to disease.
The American Heart Association shared these facts with me:
Facts You Didn’t Know About Latinas and Heart Disease
oHispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than Caucasian women.
oOnly 1 in 3 Hispanic women are aware that heart disease is their No. 1 killer.
oOnly 3 in 10 Hispanic women say they have been informed that they are at a higher risk.
oOnly 1 in 4 Hispanic women is aware of treatment options.
oHispanic women are more likely to take preventive actions for their family when it comes to heart health.
It is absolutely crucial that you take your heart health seriously, now more than ever. Wearing red today is one way to raise awareness in your community, but how can you take a step towards reducing your risk of heart disease?
There are 6 major risk factors for heart disease that you can modify or control: Cigarette and tobacco smoke, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity and diabetes. Making healthier lifestyle choices will have loads of benefits for your health, especially for your heart.
Here are some tips to get you started towards good heart health:
– Get moving! Remember, your heart is a muscle and the more you move your body, the stronger your heart will get over time. People who maintain an active lifestyle have a 45% lower risk of developing heart disease than do sedentary people. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderately-intense exercise at least 5 days a week. Take a dance class. Go for a hike. Join your friends on a bike ride. Make it fun to keep yourself motivated and consistent.
– Heart-healthy eats. Key words to keep in mind: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low cholesterol and low fat foods.
Balance your diet with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to benefit from the vitamins and minerals that contribute to good heart health. Stick to whole fresh produce as much as possible and be sure to avoid fruits or vegetables that are canned with high sodium or high sugar syrups.
Recent studies show that 39% of people ages 18 and under, and 42% of adults don’t eat whole grains at all . Eating foods high in dietary fiber, such as whole grain products, may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and will also help maintain your weight. Skip the bagels and breakfast pastries for breakfast and try oatmeal or whole wheat bread instead.
Foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol are almost guaranteed to raise your blood cholesterol and your risk for coronary artery disease and heart attack. Your body needs fat, in addition to carbs and protein, for energy so don’t skip it altogether. Choose heart-healthy fats (aka MUFAs or monounsaturated fats if you want to get technical) such as extra-virgin olive oil or nuts. Be sure to keep this in moderation folks.
– Kick the smoking habit. According to the AHA, cigarette smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by increasing blood pressure, making it harder for you to tolerate regular exercise, and making it more likely for blood to clot. Smoking also decreases the levels of HDL (high density lipoprotein) in your blood, otherwise known as the “good” cholesterol that may lower your risk for heart disease. There are many many good reasons to quit smoking, but the impact it has on heart health tops the list.
Wear red and talk to your friends, your neighbors, mothers and daughters, coworkers and social network: spread the word about the importance of heart health, not just today, but everyday. Set the example and pay it forward.
Here I am, showing off my red. Even my cell phone gets in on the action.
Are you wearing red today?
How are you celebrating Heart Health month?
As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂
Or at least, that’s what seems to be driving McDonald’s latest venture.
Under pressure to respond to the demand for healthier options in their current menu, McDonald’s announced ” that it would no longer market some of its less nutritional options to children and said it also planned to include offerings of fruits and vegetables in many of its adult menu combinations.”
The transition is expected to take at least three years within at least half of its targeted markets. The second half may not see this new menu until 2020.
Change, especially positive change, is slow-going.
McDonald’s global sales have been flat this past year. The failure to successfully capture millenials as loyal patrons has been credited as a major obstacle in the fast food giant’s struggle to both grow and maintain their market share.
By offering fruits, vegetables, and other options that are lower in fat, sugar, and salt, McDonald’s hopes to cash in on the buying power of consumers that are becoming increasingly health-conscious in light of the obesity epidemic. Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative and her work to get Americans on a healthier track, further illustrates the growing attention to what we eat and the impact of those choices on our families and communities.
Given the existing strategy to target children with the Happy Meal and low-income minorities with their cheap meal options, this announcement by McDonald’s is somewhat..dare I say, revolutionary?
Okay, revolutionary is a strong word. But it is innovative.
It’s clear the motivation here is strictly bottom-line economics. It would be silly to praise McDonald’s for their concern over the nation’s health as a primary motivator to change their model.
Of course it isn’t. We’re talking about McDonald’s here.
I can’t remember the last time I ate at McDonald’s, let alone stepped into one of their stores to check out their options. I’ve made it a point to avoid almost all fast-food chains because that was my personal choice (except for you, Pret a Manger; your overpriced salads and sandwiches get me every time!).
Fast food chains have wizened up in the past five years by offering a variety of food options that would have gotten a laugh in the the past. Veggie burger? Burger King has that. Gluten-free pizza? Check out Dominoes. Salad instead of a sandwich? Pretty much everywhere.
Chipotle has made it their mission statement to be as transparent as possible about what goes into their food and what to eat if you’re following a strict vegetarian, vegan, or GMO-free diet. It’s far from a perfect model and Chipotle still has its critics, but I can still applaud their efforts to change a commercial food model that’s been in place for a long time.
Given the popularity of places like Chipotle and Subway ($5 footlong anyone?), the real deal for consumers seems to be choice. By emphasizing the customer’s ability to choose from a variety of toppings and ingredients, these companies have successfully latched onto a powerful trend with the modern individual.
We want choice. We want to see what’s going in that sandwich. Show me how you made that falafel, and I’ll feel more comfortable ordering a pita.
I admit I’m biased. This is definitely how I approach my choices for food on the go and I tend to gravitate to those places offering that sort of information from the jump. But I hear the same thing from friends who are less conscious about their health, but still concerned about the value of their dollar.
McDonald’s is a bit late to this game. The long transition period into these healthier choices will give other fast food companies the opportunity to continue taking pieces of the market share previously guaranteed to McDonald’s. Times have changed and customers are fickle.
I can’t tell you that this will sway me to walk into McDonald’s and order up a Big Mac with a side salad. Never say never of course, but it seems highly unlikely. That said, I have to acknowledge their efforts, in spite of the less than altruistic intentions, as a step towards accepting that we both want and need better food options.
I’m curious to see how this strategy will affect obesity statistics, if at all. I’m also curious to see what this will do to our global food system and how the shift towards vegetables and fruit will affect producers in this country and around the world.
Mostly, I just want to see if this works. It’s all about choice, after all, and half of the work is getting people to change their habits. Healthier options at fast food establishments have been around for awhile and our health continues to decline while our waistlines grow.
Changing the way fast food is marketed is one way to address the issue. At the very least, companies are beginning to step up to the plate by making the choice for healthier food available. And that’s something.
What do you think about this recent announcement by McDonald’s?
Will this persuade you to start eating at McDonald’s if you aren’t currently?
Are you a fast food patron? Where do you eat regularly and why?
Share your thoughts and comments and below. I’m always looking to hear what you’re thinking!
As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂