Nutrition education and diet control

Nutrition education provides participants with the skills and resources to make better nutritional choices to combat obesity and chronic disease.

Scientific evidence suggests that diet plays an important role in the onset of chronic disease. In particular, diets high in saturated fats, calories, cholesterol and salt are associated with chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus, stroke, osteoporosis and obesity. Unfortunately, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) the rate of obesity among children and adolescents has doubled over the past decade and is now considered an epidemic. There have been an increasing number of programs created in hopes to eliminate this rising statistic to create a healthier nation.

Nutrition education programs aim to delay, avoid or reduce the prevalence of these chronic and life threatening conditions. Nutrition education can take many forms from one-on-one sessions to large group classes. Taught by experienced and educated individuals, nutrition education classes help the public make nutritious food choices and provide a foundation of dietary information to shape healthy behaviors. At any age, nutrition education classes can provide benefits on a direct and indirect level.

Scientific evidence suggests that disease or conditions related to nutrition can be positively affected through practicing appropriate nutrition education. Direct benefits of nutrition education include changing habits by learning associated behaviors. For example, condition specific education benefits for heart disease include decreased intake of sodium, how to prepare foods with less salt, decreased fat intake, increased intake of complex carbohydrates and weight control. For more diet specifics, Michigan State University Extension provides helpful nutrition education material on diet and preventing chronic disease. Similarly, nutrition education can reduce obesity by using sound weight control methods in reducing intake of fat and calories and increasing intake of fiber, complex carbohydrate, fruits and vegetables. Methods include nutrition label reading, preparation techniques, explaining dietary guidelines and meal planning. Nutrition education can directly assist in decreasing food cost through strategic food buying, meal planning, home gardening skills and decreasing fast food consumption.

Indirectly, completing nutrition education can positively enhance one’s life. Quality of life may increase by providing nutritious, appealing meals that will lead to better health, increased energy, stamina and less illness. Nutrition education may indirectly improve one’s self-image by improving feelings of wellbeing, improved appearance through weight control, increased motivation, knowledge and skills.

Whether you are trying to prevent chronic disease, lose weight or simply follow a healthier lifestyle, nutrition education can provide you with tools and strategies to succeed in meeting your goals.

Visit the MSU Extension Food and Health page to find more resources on nutrition and browse a wide variety of educational programs.

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