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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, September 6, 2002

Stay trim with hour of daily activity

By Nanci Hellmich
USA Today

WASHINGTON — American kids and adults should do at least one hour a day of some type of activity — walking, playing tag, gardening, biking — to control their weight. And people can eat different amounts of fats, carbs and proteins and still be healthy.

These are among the conclusions of a report released yesterday from the National Academies' Institute of Medicine. The Dietary Reference Intakes report was produced by a panel of U.S. and Canadian nutrition and exercise scientists and intended for healthy Americans.

Exercise, diet recommendations to keep control of weight

• Get at least an hour of exercise a day. It may be in 10 to 15 minutes increments and can include housework.

• Get 45 percent to 65 percent of calories from carbohydrates; 20 percent to 35 percent from fat; and 10 percent to 35 percent from protein.

• The daily intake for total fiber is 38 grams for men ages 50 and younger and 25 grams for women in that age group. It's 30 grams a day for men over 50; and 21 grams for women over 50.

• Both adults and kids need to eat at least 130 grams of carbohydrates (vegetables, fruits, grain products) every day, which is the minimum amount needed to produce enough glucose for the brain to function. Most people consume a lot more than that.

• No more than 25 percent of total calories consumed should come from added sugars such as those found in candy, soft drinks, fruit drinks, pastries and other sweets.

• Saturated fat (found in meat, high-fat dairy products), cholesterol and trans fatty acids (found in cookies, cakes, processed foods) should be kept as low as possible.

The activity guideline is much more ambitious than the one promoted in the 1996 surgeon general's report, which recommended a minimum of 30 minutes of moderately intense activity most days of the week.

The new report says that although there are health benefits achieved from 30 minutes of activity, it takes an hour or more to prevent weight gain and get additional benefits including a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Activities — which could include mopping the floor, jumping rope or playing tennis — can be done in 10 and 15 minute increments and add up in the course of a day.

The report also says the best diet for minimizing the risk of chronic disease is one that gets 45 percent to 65 percent of calories from carbohydrates; 20 percent to 35 percent from fat; and 10 percent to 35 percent from protein.

These recommendations differ from traditional guidelines because they offer a wider range of percentages for nutrient intake, and they are far different from popular diets like the Atkins diet, which slashes carbohydrates and beefs up fat intake.

"This range gives people a lot of flexibility in planning their diets," says Penny Kris-Etherton, a professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. "They can plan their diets around their specific likes and dislikes."

These new guidelines may be used by government agencies to plan the school lunch program and adjust the nutrition facts panel on food labels, Kris-Etherton says.

Wahida Karmally of the American Dietetic Association applauds the recommendations in general, but says most Americans aren't meeting the 30-minute activity recommendation and will have a hard time doing an hour or more.

Still, she says, "they have to make a serious attempt to incorporate activity in their daily living. It doesn't mean going to the gym or buying expensive shoes. They can go for walks or go out dancing, but it has to be activity they really enjoy so they stick with it."

The report comes out the same day a study in the New England Journal of Medicine said women can cut stroke or heart attack risk by exercising at least 2 1/2 hours a week.