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Our Growing Problem


Let's face it. We're fat and getting fatter. Obesity is not just a cosmetic problem; it is a serious medical problem.
  • What are we going to do about this "growing" problem?
  • Have you made the choice to get moving and eat right?
  • Do you need some help?

North Mississippi Medical Center is happy to provide health resources for you and your family as you strive to live healthier.

The Fat Facts

  • Approximately 300,000 people die each year from obesity-related conditions. In the United States, only tobacco use causes more preventable deaths.
  • Overweight and obesity are associated with heart disease, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, stroke, arthritis, breathing problems and depression.
  • Overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.
  • Obesity shortens the average lifespan by at least four to nine months. If childhood obesity continues to increase, it could cut two to five years from the average lifespan. The current generation of American children could become the first in American history to live shorter lives than their parents.
  • Overweight children and adolescents often have low self-esteem, exhibit high levels of psychological stress, are withdrawn, are less likely to be accepted by their peers and are more likely to smoke and drink alcohol.

You Are What You Eat

Bigger Portions, Less Nutrition

Most Americans now consume more calories because food portion sizes have gotten so much larger. What we think of as a "normal" portion of food has changed dramatically over the last 20 years.

Here are just a few examples of how distorted portions have become:


20 Years Ago


  Portion Calories Portion  Calories
Bagel 3"
140 6"
Cheeseburger  1 333 1 590
Soda 6.5 oz. 85 20 oz. 250
Blueberry muffin 1.5 oz. 210 5 oz. 500

Don't confuse a portion with a recommended serving size. You make the choice if you will eat a large portion of food or a small portion. A recommended serving size of food is a measured amount of food or drink, such as one slice of bread or one cup of milk. Just because a plate of pasta served in a restaurant is one "portion" does not mean that it is one "serving." In fact, it is usually several servings.

Control portion size and make daily food choices that emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts should also be included. Cut back on foods and drinks that are high in fat and added sugar.

Check these sites for more information and tips about
making healthy food choices and controlling portion sizes:

The Snack Attack

Often regarded as a bad behavior, snacking actually can be an important part of a nutritious eating plan. Healthy snacks provide extra energy for exercise or help to sustain energy until the next meal. Eating healthy snacks between meals can prevent overeating by reducing mealtime hunger. The trick is choosing snacks that are healthy and contribute to a well-balanced diet. Many snack foods and beverages are made with added sugar and/or salt (sodium). These foods tend to be low in vitamins and minerals, but high in calories. Remember, snack calories count in your daily total calorie count. So skip the junk food and make sure you pick healthy, low-calorie snacks. Drink water and limit soft drinks, fruit juices and sports drinks. Stock the refrigerator with fat-free or low-fat milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, instead of drinks and foods high in fat, calories and added sugars.


Healthy Snack Ideas:

Calorie-free snacks

  • Salad greens (lettuce, spinach and romaine)
  • Sugar-free Jell-O
  • 1 cup raw vegetables (cucumbers, celery, broccoli, etc.)

Very low calorie snacks

  • 2 cups air-popped popcorn
  • 1 medium piece of fruit (peach, orange or nectarine)
  • 1/2 small banana
  • 1 small piece of fruit (apple or pear)
  • 1 large carrot with 1 tablespoon fat-free dressing

Low calorie snacks

  • Toasted English muffin with jelly
  • 1 cup cereal with 1 cup non-fat milk
  • 12 baked tortilla chips with salsa
  • Small baked potato with salsa, non-fat sour cream or non-fat yogurt topping

Read the Label

Use the Nutrition Facts Label on food as a tool to help you make smart choices.

For help in using the Nutrition Facts Label, visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website.



Haste Makes Waists

The Contribution of Fast Food

Fast food establishments are widespread and popular, but fast food makes a huge contribution to the current obesity epidemic.

Why is fast food so popular?

  • More two-income families, often resulting in less time to prepare food.
  • Americans travel more now than in the past.
  • We commute longer distances to work.
  • We work longer hours.
  • Average family size is smaller.
  • More people live alone.

Several research studies indicate that food eaten away from home, especially fast food, tends to be higher in total fat, saturated fat and sodium; lower in dietary fiber and served in larger portions.

Because we love the convenience of fast food, we should be informed so we can make smart fast food decisions.
Here are some good basic guidelines:

  • Salads are usually the best low-fat choice - just avoid shredded cheese, bacon bits and high-fat dressings.
  • Use barbecue sauce, mustard or ketchup instead of mayonnaise or cream sauces. Ask for extra lettuce, onions or tomatoes instead of bacon and cheese.
  • Get baked potatoes plain or add barbecue sauce, ketchup or a little chili.
  • Watch portion size! Choose the smallest size available.
  • Avoid anything fried, battered, breaded, "doubled" or "tripled."
  • Skip the whole eggs, breakfast sandwiches, croissants, Danishes & biscuits.
  • Use jelly instead of butter.
  • Order pizza with less cheese, a thin crust and vegetable toppings.

Food & Movement

Finding The Balance

Whenever we eat or drink, we introduce energy or calories into our bodies. If the calories we take in are not in balance with the energy we burn, over time we become overweight.

To achieve balance, our energy in from all the food and drink calories we consume every day equals our energy out in the form of calories burned to keep our bodies going and complete all of our activities. But, we don't have to balance exactly every day. It's the balance over time that counts and determines whether we can maintain a healthy weight in the long run.

Consider the following example:
Let's say you get "out of balance" by consuming 150 calories more a day than you burn in activity. This can lead to a gain of five pounds in six months or 10 pounds in a year.* To prevent that from happening and to "get back into balance," you would need to either reduce your energy in or increase your energy out. Actually, it would be a great idea to do both.

Two easy ways to reduce energy in by 150 calories:

  • Drink water instead of a 12-ounce regular soda
  • Downsize a medium French fries to a small, or substitute a salad

Two easy ways to increase energy out by 150 calories*:

  • Shoot basketball for 30 minutes
  • Walk two miles in 30 minutes

*Calories burned by a 150-pound person. People who weigh less will burn fewer calories doing these activities; people who weigh more will burn more.

You Move, You Lose

We live in an in-the-car and sit-behind-a-desk society. This shows up in our significant lack of daily physical activity. Regular physical activity is important because it improves strength, builds lean muscle and increases self-esteem and capacity for learning.

We must make up our minds to be more active and then follow through. Being active is just as important as eating right. Remember we have to maintain balance!

 Time is the No. 1 cited obstacle to being physically active, and no wonder when you consider our hectic family lifestyles. But it is not as hard as you think to fit physical activity into your day because it doesn't have to be done all at once. Actually, you can do separate, short sessions of physical activity and get the same benefits. 

You can do sit-ups and stretching for 15 minutes in the morning, take a 15-minute walk during lunch, and walk for 30 minutes after dinner. And, presto! You have just added 60 minutes of activity to your day.


Here are some simple ways to become more active:

  • Always use the stairs
  • Walk to a co-worker's desk rather than using the  phone or e-mail
  • Dig and plant in the garden
  • Rake leaves
  • Hula-hoop
  • Walk in the mall
  • Go roller skating
  • Ride your bicycle
  • Join a fitness center
  • Play basketball in your church gym
  • Choose parking spaces that are farthest from the entrance

The bottom line is we must get moving for the health and fun of it!

Check these local options for physical activity:

  • Live Well Community Walking Track, Madison Street,  Tupelo
  • Walking tracks at local schools, community hospitals  and public parks
  • LifeTrails equipment on the walking track at Ballard  Park in Tupelo
  • Skate Park at Ballard Park in Tupelo
  • Disc Golf courses at Ballard and Veterans parks in Tupelo

NMMC Wellness Center offers a wide variety of youth fitness programs:

  • F.I.T. (Families in Transformation) helps families with nutrition and exercise.
  • Gymnastics teaches children ages 3 to 5 tumbling and  balance.
  • Swim programs include group lessons, private lessons and semi-private lessons that are offered all year for children age 6 months and older.
  • Family Fitness Time allows parents to bring their children to the Wellness Center for swimming, basketball and Wallyball.
  • Seasonal camps include fitness and nutrition activities for children ages 9-13.
  • Pool Birthday Parties are an active and fun party  alternative.
  • A registered dietitian offers nutritional counseling for children and families.
  • Group sports training is offered for specific sports.
  • Weight Watchers, supervised by a registered dietitian, is available for children who are referred by a  physician.

Need more ideas to help you and your family eat well and become more physically active?

Check out these other great resources: