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September, 2014

Church event preaches benefits of active lifestyle

By Nathaniel Axtell
Times-News Staff Writer
Published: Sunday, September 14, 2014 at 5:00 p.m.

MILLS RIVER - Brayden Sparks hiked the football to his friend, Madeline Hover, and sprinted up the field at Mills River Park, then backpedaled as he awaited the pass.

Dropping back, Hover threw a line drive that drilled Sparks in the nose and bounced into the grass. The impact of the soft foam ball didn't leave a mark, but the exercise sure did. Both kids zipped back to position, gulping breaths of cool, fresh air.

The schoolmates were two of roughly 40 kids who showed up at the park Sunday for “Let's Move Day,” an exercise and healthy-eating event sponsored by the Hendersonville Seventh-Day Adventist Church with help from Henderson County Parks and Recreation.

Taking a cue from First Lady Michelle Obama's “Let's Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity, organizers Denise and Gary Phillips designed the event to encourage participants young and old to get active and eat wholesome foods.

“Her program is about moving and eating well, and ours, we go a little beyond that,” said Denise Phillips. “We do not do dairy or meat at all. Everything here is totally vegan and organic.”

Kids could win prizes by working their way through a series of fun activities, from football, soccer and tennis to bike riding, tumbling, jump roping and bubble chasing. Under a nearby covered pavilion, church members served vegan muffins, corn salad and smoothies mixed with kale, celery and fruit.

With both their parents working, the Phillipses said, kids today tend to eat more fast food and sit in front of video screens for hours instead of going out to play.

“It used to be the TV generation, and now it's the computer generation,” said Gary Phillips. “With two working parents, the easiest thing to do is to let them do their own thing. And now you've got young adults and kids with onset diabetes and other diseases normally seen only in adults.”

That sedentary lifestyle is taking its toll. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, largely because of inactivity and poor eating habits.

“All of these parents are working, and they're doing fast food,” said Denise Phillips. “The kids are eating chicken nuggets and macaroni-and-cheese. But fruit is fast food. All you've got to do is pick up an apple. Hopefully, we're opening peoples' eyes a little to healthy nutrition and the benefits of exercise.”

Conner West, 6, and his 3-year-old brother, Ethan, are living proof that combination can work. Their doctor says both siblings are slightly underweight for their ages, their mom, Brooke, said.

“(Conner) is my vegetable eater, and this one's my fruit eater,” Brooke West said, pointing to Ethan. “They're just active. They love being outside, and we don't play very much on (video) games.”

With help from instructor Michele Simpson, the siblings twirled hula-hoops at her fitness station. After completing the activity, the boys got a colored check that could pay off in prizes such as a soccer ball, Frisbee or football.

In the park's pavilion, Sandra Howard of Tuxedo sampled Sharon Day Ferguson's green smoothies with three friends. Howard said her husband's diabetes prompted the couple to make some dietary changes that have yielded dividends for her, as well.

“I used to drink (cow's) milk before I went to bed, and I was getting up in the morning with acid reflux,” Howard said. “So I said, 'I'm going to try soy milk.' I did it for a week, and the acid reflux went away. I've been drinking it for over two years, and it's great. I cook and bake with it, too.”

Reach Axtell at than.axtell@blueridgenow.com or 828-507-3920.

June, 2014

Vegetarian diets produce fewer greenhouse gases and increase longevity, say new studies from Loma Linda University Health

LOMA LINDA, CA – June 25, 2014 – Consuming a plant-based diet results in a more sustainable environment and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, while improving longevity, according to new research from Loma Linda University Health.

A study and an article, produced by researchers at Loma Linda University School of Public Health, will be published in full in the July issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and were first presented at the 6th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition in 2013.

Based on findings that identified food systems as a significant contributor to global warming, the study focuses on the dietary patterns of vegetarians, semi-vegetarians and non-vegetarians to quantify and compare greenhouse gas emissions, as well as assess total mortality.

The mortality rate for non-vegetarians was almost 20 percent higher than that for vegetarians and semi-vegetarians. On top of lower mortality rates, switching from non-vegetarian diets to vegetarian diets or even semi-vegetarian diets also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The vegetarian diets resulted in almost a third less emissions compared to the non-vegetarian diets. Modifying the consumption of animal-based foods can therefore be a feasible and effective tool for climate change mitigation and public health improvements, the study concluded.

"The takeaway message is that relatively small reductions in the consumption of animal products result in non-trivial environmental benefits and health benefits," said Sam Soret, Ph.D., MPH, associate dean at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and co-author of the studies.

The study drew data from the Adventist Health Study, which is a large-scale study of the nutritional habits and practices of more than 96,000 Seventh-day Adventists throughout the United States and Canada. The study population is multi-ethnic and geographically diverse.

"The study sample is heterogeneous and our data is rich. We analyzed more than 73,000 participants. The level of detail we have on food consumption and health outcomes at the individual level makes these findings unprecedented,” Soret said. 

The analysis is the first of its kind to use a large, living population, since previous studies relating dietary patterns to greenhouse gas emissions and health effects relied on simulated data or relatively small populations to find similar conclusions.

"To our knowledge no studies have yet used a single non-simulated data set to independently assess the climate change mitigation potential and actual health outcomes for the same dietary patterns," said Joan Sabate, MD, DrPH, nutrition professor at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and co-author of the studies.

The accompanying article makes the case for returning to a large-scale practice of plant-based diets, in light of the substantial and detrimental environmental impacts caused by the current trend of eating diets rich in animal products. Making a switch to plant-based foods will increase food security and sustainability, thereby avoiding otherwise disastrous consequences.

Both papers demonstrate that the production of food for human consumption causes significant emissions of greenhouse gases and compare the environmental impacts of producing foods consumed by vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

Sabate noted that the results emphasize the need to reassess people's nutritional practices, in light of environmental challenges and worldwide population growth.

"Throughout history, forced either by necessity or choice, large segments of the world's population have thrived on plant-based diets,” Sabate said.

The School of Public Health at Loma Linda University has a keen interest in studying environmental nutrition and has had a dedicated postdoctoral program for the last six years and a clearly defined research program, funded by the McLean Endowment.

The publications may be viewed by clicking on these links:



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