Nutrition and Physical Activity: Foundations for Health (by CDC)

Healthy eating and regular physical activity can prevent injury, disability, and early death from many chronic conditions, including obesity, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes, depression, and osteoporosis. They also can help people maintain healthy weight. Unfortunately, few Americans make healthy food choices on a regular basis, and many do not get enough physical activity to receive health benefits.

According to the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 67.5% of U.S. adults aged 18 years or older do not eat fruit at least 2 times a day, and 73.7% do not eat vegetables at least 3 times a day. The 2008 National Health Interview Survey found that 36.2% of adults report no leisure-time physical activity and 81.8% do not meet current federal guidelines for physical activity and muscle strengthening. Results from the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System found that 81.6% of adolescents do not meet current guidelines for aerobic physical activity. Physical inactivity is estimated to cost the United States about $75 billion in medical costs each year.

Barriers to Healthy Lifestyles

Some Americans, including those with disabilities, experience more barriers in their pursuit of healthy lifestyles than others. For example, the quality and accessibility of a community's food and physical activity environment affects the health of its residents. People who live in neighborhoods in which more residents have low incomes or are members of racial or ethnic minority groups often have poor access to healthy foods and few places for safe physical activity. Such conditions contribute to significant health disparities related to obesity. Increasing access to healthier food options and safe places to be physically active are important strategies for reducing health disparities and improving population-level health outcomes.
Public health officials and policy makers have begun to recognize that public health initiatives that focus on changing policies and environmental factors at federal, state, and local levels can help to remove the barriers that prevent people from making healthy lifestyle choices.

SWFLI Supports Healthy Nutrition and Physical Activity

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the following target areas for improving nutrition and promoting active living:

  • Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables.
  • Increase physical activity.
  • Increase breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity.
  • Decrease consumption of sugar drinks.
  • Decrease consumption of energy-dense foods, which are high in calories.