Posts Tagged ‘obesity’

4 Ways to Avoid Halloween Candy Overload

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

With Halloween just a week away, kids and parents are gearing up for the spooky festivities and sugary gorge-fest. It’s not only children who become increasingly excited as the end of October looms near—retailers and manufactures are also preparing for a big Halloween sales. The National Retail Federation estimates total Halloween spending in the U.S. to reach $6.9 billion. Of that spend, $2.08 billion is expected to be on candy alone, proof that we in the United States take our yearly Halloween candy binging rites seriously.

For kids, the goal is simple: visit as many houses as possible, filling up a giant knapsack with the largest amount of candy that you can manage to carry. Parents, on the other hand, have things a bit more complicated when it comes to Halloween. Yes, making sure your kids have a wonderful, memorable Halloween experience is important, as is keeping them safe while they are out there trick-or-treating.

What is also important is trying to curtail the ongoing consumption of tooth-rotting sweets that can last for weeks, or even months, after Halloween has come and gone. Not only is managing children’s candy intake necessary to avoid cavities, belly aches, hyperactivity, and future health issues—it’s also essential to avoid the inevitable glucose crash that follows an assault on the trove of Halloween riches.

So how do you go about helping your kids avoid the adverse affects of binging on Halloween candy? After all, they are sure to be up to their eyeballs in candy at every turn: at home, at school, and out in public. To start, it’s best to lay out a few ground rules: how much they’ll be allowed to eat and how much will be donated, saved for later, or set aside for ‘inspection’ by Mom and Dad. In addition to establishing rules, here are a few more ideas to help avoid Halloween candy crash.

1. Have Healthy Snacks on Hand

In the days following Halloween, it’s easy for kids to reach for that pillow case bulging with candy when they need a snack. One way to avoid this is to make sure you have other, healthier snack options readily available. While choosing a carrot over a chocolate bar isn’t likely to be your child’s first instinct, providing them with healthier food options—and helping them make the right choice—is key to avoiding candy binging. It helps make their Halloween candy stash last longer too.

2. A Little Goes a Long Way

Instead of giving your kids free reign over the now-overflowing candy jar, restrict candy intake to a few, or even better, one, piece of candy each day. To children, this might seem like a drag, but one way to make the process go more smoothly is to make a small ‘event’ out of it. Establish a set time each day, and encourage your kids to choose their daily candy very carefully. Tell them to eat their candy slowly and enjoy it rather than shove the entire thing in their mouth before running off. If you can manage to slow the process down enough, you will effectively bypass binge candy eating, while also teaching your kids the importance of savoring their food to avoid overeating and increase satisfaction and appreciation of food and treats.

3. One for Me, One for You

After the trick-or-treating has been completed, sit down with your children and take inventory of what they’ve managed to bring home. With all of the candy laid out, tell them that they need to decide which candy to keep, and which to set aside. In this way, you are allowing kids a certain level of control over selecting their favorites, but also cutting their candy total in half. Once they have chosen the candy they will keep for themselves, you can collectively decide what to do with the rest: donate it, share it among friends, or allow Mom and Dad to have some treats of their own.

4. Have a Plan for Leftover Candy

Aside from donating candy to troops overseas, selling it, or giving it away, having a few other ideas in place for leftover Halloween candy is a good idea to ensure it doesn’t go to waste. Of course, you can always freeze some of it, eating it later or using it as an ingredient in a frozen treat. You can also bake certain candies into cakes, use them in trail mixes, or even put them in a gift basket for Christmas. There are a ton of resources to help you with ideas for leftover Halloween candy, some of which even include healthy options!

Good luck managing that candy stash, and have a happy Halloween!

New Obesity Statistics Widget

Friday, February 11th, 2011

prevent-obesity-net-obesity-statistics-widgetAbout The United States is facing a child obesity epidemic and now, more than ever, needs people and organizations to step forward to change our path of self destruction. The technology exists to focus the world’s talents, creativity, and expertise on solving the problem that has cost our nation trillions of dollars over the past decade in health care costs. The combination of a grassroots movement and innovative ideas for reversing obesity will save our country money, lives, and keep our kids healthy. (Image from

New Widget: just released their newest tool to help stave the obesity situation. The free widget can be placed on any website or blog and provides a quick view of what obesity has and will cost our country. It shows an adult obesity rate of only 13% in 1960 costing the nation $46 billion in health care; in 2008 the numbers skyrocketed up to a 34% adult obesity rate, costing us $120 billion. The popular widget also shows the number of annual heart attacks and how many days obesity takes off of your expected lifespan. The widget is based on substantial research, looking at the implication of obesity on our nation. Having the numbers easily available for people to see creates a sense of urgency to fix the situation. This widget can easily spread the word of how serious the current issue is and hopefully get people motivated to join our cause.

Join the Movement: Reversing the negative effects obesity has on our children and nation is a monumental task that requires a lending hand from people like you. Everyone has seen firsthand how obesity can affect someone’s life; do not accept the same outcome for you and your family. Our nation will suffer when the next generation of obese children age and require substantial support. If you are interested in protecting our health and economy, take a stand and join in our movement against obesity. You can make small contributions or lead the way, every helping hand counts. To join the movement, connect with other motivated people by adding yourself to our map. provides free services to support leaders, organizers, and even businesses looking to make a difference.

Steps to Take

  1. Widget: Post the brand new widget on your blog and website. Show others that you care about the current obesity situation and let them see the numbers for themselves on your site. Many people do not realize how serious the issue has become in the United States. Seeing the actual impact in dollars and lives posted on your website will help bring them on board the cause.
  2. Map of the Movement: Add yourself to the map and then ask your friends and employer to join the cause. The more you spread the word, the more influential the free support from will be. Take a leadership role in one of the most important causes of this generation by adding yourself to the map.

The Campaign to Exterminate Physical Activity

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

I was taking a delightful bike ride on a sunny but brisk December day in San Diego, and I actually passed a father and son who were riding electric bikes (no pedaling). Just a couple of minutes later I saw a family zipping around like robots on Segways. Those images kind of spoiled my ride—for two reasons.

First, instead of encouraging their kids to be active, these parents were promoting the easy joys of slothfulness.  I’m sure they thought they were being good parents by having fun with their children, getting them outdoors, and introducing them to cool technology.  Here we are, 10 years into the New Millenium, and teaching your child to avoid physical activity is still considered good parenting.  With childhood obesity constantly in the media, why aren’t parents, as well as health professionals, public officials, school officials, and people in general, more concerned about making sure kids get enough physical activity?

That brings me to the second thought that spoiled my ride.  The campaign to exterminate physical activity!  Since the dawn of humanity people have been dreaming of ways to reduce their walking, get someone else to do the heavy work, and avoid sweating.  For millennia it was pretty hard to avoid physical activity and stay alive.  But in the past couple of hundred years, humanity’s dreams have come true.  One of the main motivations of the Industrial Revolution was to supply people with the Labor Saving Devices they craved, and gazillions of dollars have been made in the process.  Technological innovations have taken physical activity out of most work, transportation, and household tasks.  Our homes and offices are filled with Labor Saving Devices, from the electric can opener to the computer to the car.

The extermination has taken about 200 years, but it is almost complete.  Now, efforts to finally eradicate physical activity are getting a bit ridiculous.  Is it so onerous to walk a quarter mile that you would pay $5000 for a Segway?  Are people so committed to laziness that they will ride a bike that does the pedaling for them?  Is there any longer a problem of too-much-activity that needs a solution?

What all this means is that we have a lot of work to do.  Physical activity has been mainly exterminated, to catastrophic effect for our physical and mental health and medical costs.  But still, people buy any gizmo that promises to squeeze the last few minutes of activity from their day.  The Fitness Revolution of the 1980s did not create a culture of activity.  Parents are not teaching their children to enjoy movement, dance, games, and sport as much as they need to.  Appreciating new gizmos seems to take precedence.

Those of us who want to create better health through more activity continue to face big challenges.  Looks like my resolution for 2011 will be to get a little better at encouraging people to enjoy being active.

Jim Sallis

Healthy Holiday Recipes

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Holiday Pudding Cups

A light delicious treat which is fruitful, festive, and requires very little work. Plus it is in its own dish, so less clean up after a holiday party.


  • 1pkg Philo dough (thawed)
  • 1pkg JELLO instant vanilla pudding (regular or sugar free)
  • Milk (for pudding)
  • ¼ cup Pomegranate
  • ¼ cup Strawberry (sliced)
  • ¼ cup Blueberry
  • ¼ cup Kiwi (diced)
  • Powder Sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Lightly spray muffin pan with cooking spray (for appetizer style use the miniature cup cake pans)
  3. Roll Philo dough into 1/8 inch thick sheets
  4. Cut dough into squares, so that when it’s laid into the muffin pan it will hangover ½ inch
  5. Gently press squares into muffin pan, shaping edges to form rims ¼ inch high
  6. Bake for 18 minutes or until pastry has a golden color. (Tip – for a glossy shine on the pastry cup lightly glaze beaten egg onto the top)
  7. Let cool
  8. Mix up the vanilla pudding per the JELLO package instructions
  9. Once the pastry cups have cooled, spoon pudding into each cup.
  10. Then top with a piece of each fruit and lightly dust with powder sugar.
  11. Serve chilled.
  12. ENJOY!

Stuffing with Sage and Chives


  • 1 spray(s) cooking spray
  • 12 slice(s) whole-wheat bread, cubed*
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp light butter
  • 1 cup(s) onion(s), diced
  • 3 stalk(s) (medium) celery, diced
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 cup(s) canned chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp chives, fresh, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 4-quart shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Arrange bread cubes on a large ungreased baking sheet in a single layer (use 2 baking sheets if there’s not enough room). Bake until lightly toasted, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove bread from oven and set aside; leave oven set to 350ºF.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil and butter together for 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion and celery; sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add thyme, sage, salt and pepper; stir to coat. Cook until herbs are fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Transfer onion mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add bread, broth and chives; toss to combine. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish and cover with foil; bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Divide into 8 pieces and serve. Yields 1 piece per serving.


  • Leave the bread bag open and somewhat uncovered for 1 to 2 days (at room temperature) before making the recipe.
  • Feel free to substitute your favorite bread, such as whole grain, sourdough or a light variety..
  • For added flavor, you can also add about 1 cup of diced Granny Smith or McIntosh apples to the stuffing
  • You can make this stuffing in advance and bake it just before serving. The stuffing will last up to 3 days in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking as directed.

Servings:  8

Preparation Time:  15 min

Cooking Time:  45 min

Level of Difficulty:  Easy


A Job Worth Doing

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

By Dr. James Sallis

Does anyone ever ask you why you work in the physical activity or physical education field? If so, or if you wonder whether this hard work is worth it, consider these facts:

  • Physical inactivity accounts for almost 200,000 U.S. deaths annually (Danaei et al., 2009). It is ranked fourth behind smoking (450,000 deaths), high blood pressure (300,000), and overweight/obesity (200,000 deaths). Of course, physical activity helps people quit smoking, control high blood pressure, and prevent obesity.
  • The World Health Organization (2004) estimates 2 million deaths per year from physical inactivity internationally, making it the 7th leading cause of death.
  • The 1996 Surgeon General’s Report, Physical Activity and Health, identified physical inactivity as a risk factor for early death, cardiovascular diseases, several cancers, Type 2 diabetes, mental health problems, reduced quality of life, osteoporosis, and several other diseases (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996).
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates at least $76 billion in health care costs annually from physical inactivity (Pratt et al., 2000).
  • Based on recent data from objective monitoring using accelerometers, fewer than 50% of elementary children, 10% of adolescents, and 5% of adults are meeting current physical activity guidelines (Troiano et al., 2007). Thus, the vast majority of the American population is at risk of early death, multiple diseases, reduced quality of life, and higher health care costs due to physical inactivity.
  • The Surgeon General’s 2001 Call to Action on obesity (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 20001) and the Institute of Medicine’s 2005 report on Preventing Childhood Obesity (Koplan et al., 2004) identified increased physical activity as essential for reversing the obesity epidemic.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services released the first official government physical activity guidelines in 2008 (Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, 2008).
  • In the 13 years since the 1996 Surgeon General’s Report, about 2.6 million Americans have died because of insufficient progress in increasing physical activity (13 years X 200,000 deaths per year).

Are you now more convinced than ever that promoting physical activity is a very high priority? Don’t you think everyone should place a high value on physical activity? So do I, but unfortunately, not everyone values physical activity. This includes many of the groups responsible for improving health in the United States.

I want to call your attention to the October 2009 issue of Preventive Medicine. It contains a series of short commentaries that explain why more emphasis needs to be placed on promoting physical activity and what changes are needed to be successful. This issue grew out of a startling revelation. The National Institutes of Health published a list of 214 research topics for which it tracks funding. The list included every disease you ever heard of, enzymes you have not heard of, and a wide range of health behaviors, including diet, smoking, alcohol abuse, and violence. Everything important to health—except physical activity. It later became clear that NIH tracks 360 research topics, and physical activity was not on that list either—despite the fact that NIH has spent hundreds of millions of dollars over several decades on physical activity research.

Of course, this news was upsetting to physical activity professionals. How could the world’s leading health research organization not care enough to track spending on one of the leading health issues? The editor of Preventive Medicine decided the NIH situation was a symptom of a larger problem of physical activity being undervalued in every part of the health field. As just one example, every state, city, and county health department has many nutritionists, but most state health departments only have one physical activity specialist, and that person may be a nutritionist working on physical activity part-time. The journal is freely available online, and the short commentaries are easy to read:

As Toni Yancey and I ask in our introductory editorial, will physical activity be Rodney Dangerfield who never gets any respect, or Cinderella who is just waiting in the shadows until she gets her chance to become belle of the ball? The answer depends on us. One of the reasons physical activity is undervalued is that physical activity professionals and enthusiasts are too nice—and too quiet. We do not advocate well enough for what we believe in.

I hereby challenge you to take action to advocate for increased attention, resources, and funding for physical activity or physical education. Raise your voice for something that will make a difference. Here are some of my suggestions for improvements to demand and argue for, but I know you can identify many more needs.

  • A PE Coordinator in your school district or County Department of Education to promote improvements in PE.
  • In secondary schools, more resources for PE and intramurals that benefit many, rather than for interscholastic sports that benefit a few.
  • Open school grounds for community use during non-school hours.
  • Hire a qualified physical activity specialist in your local health department who can promote physical activity, including supporting improved school PE.
  • Write to local government leaders about where new parks or park renovations are needed.
  • Testify at local planning commission meetings to educate them about the necessity to design new developments and transportation projects that support physical activity for transportation and recreation.
  • Help write a Safe Routes to School grant proposal for your school.
  • Make sure all neighborhoods in your area have sidewalks.
  • Advocate for more and safer facilities for bicycling, like bike paths separated from traffic.
  • Join the new Physical Activity Special Interest Group of the American Public Health Association.

Surely you can find a physical activity cause to adopt. Get educated about it. Be bold and speak up to the people who make decisions. We know the deadly consequences of inactivity, so we all have a responsibility to work for a more active America. Keep us informed about what you do. Email SPARK your good ideas for advocacy, success stories, and frustrations.

I’m including references in this entry.

  1. American Public Health Association, 2008. Policy Statement 20079. Building a Public Health Infrastructure for Physical Activity Promotion.
  2. Danaei, G., Ding, E.L., Mozaffarian, D., Taylor, B., Rehm, J., Murray, C.J.L., Ezzati, M., 2009. The preventable causes of death in the United States: Comparative risk assessment of dietary, lifestyle, and metabolic risk factors. PLoS Med 6(4), e1000058.
  3. Koplan, J.P., Liverman, C.T., Kraak, V.I., eds, 2005. Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
  4. Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, 2008. Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, 2008. Washington, DC, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  5. Pratt, M., Macera, C.A., Wang, G., 2000. Higher direct medical costs associated with physical inactivity. Physician Sports Med, 28, 63-70.
    Troiano, R.P., Berrigan, D., Dodd, K.W., Masse, L.C., Tilert, T., McDowell, M., 2007. Physical activity in the United States measured by accelerometer. Med Sci Sports Exerc 40, 181-188.
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996. Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000. Healthy People 2010. Conference ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
  8. World Health Organization, 2004. Global Strategy On Diet, Physical Activity And Health. Geneva: WHO.
  9. Yancey, A.K., guest editor. Theme issue: Forum on Physical Activity Research and Funding. Prev Med. October 2009, volume 49, issue 4.

Jim Sallis