The nutritional status of any individual can be estimated using anthropometry. Anthropometry attempts to compare parameters like height, weight, skin folds and Body Mass Index (BMI) with established standards in order to gauge current nutritional status. Body Mass Index is considered normal when it falls between 18.5 and 24.5 (WHO, n.d). The goal of the personal health initiative was to maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (Korinek et al, 2008). This was arrived at after a Body Mass Index of 28 was obtained.
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The personal health initiative’s goal was chosen after a careful analysis of the current health status. Some of the factors that influenced the decision include a Body Mass Index indicative of an overweight state (Berkman, 2011), an existing health condition called multiple sclerosis, a family history of heart disease, and a general desire to improve personal health.
Planned strategies for behavior change
In order to achieve this goal, a number of strategies were used. Change of food and eating habits were adopted. Food eaten was modified to include enough fruits and vegetables while reducing the number of carbohydrates (Di Pasquale, 2008). This is because these food groups contain vitamins and antioxidants. Vitamins are necessary for the maintenance of a competent immune system. Antioxidants are chemical groups found in these foods. Antioxidants are thought to have anti-cancer properties. It is important to reduce carbohydrates since this food group has been implicated in causing states of overweight and obesity when consumed in excess. To achieve this, it was necessary to minimize the intake of processed sugar (Zoellner, Connell, Bounds, Crook, Yadrick, 2009). For example, natural orange juice was taken without adding processed sugar to enhance its taste. Processed sugar is a source of excess calories which would be converted by the body into fat and deposited in adipose tissue. In line with this, energy drinks were also avoided. This is because energy drinks contain caffeine and sugar. Both of which have negative effects on health (Van Dam, 2008).
All the body’s physiological processes require an aqueous medium to proceed. Therefore, in order to achieve the goal of the personal health initiative sufficient amounts of water had to be taken (EFSA, 2010). However, it is important to note that the effects of overhydration were also considered during this process. Optimum hydration is essential during weight reduction because, in addition to producing a subjective feeling of satiety, it also affects the general activity level. Dehydration reduces performance in sport (Le Bellego et al, 2010). Part of the action plan involved taking part in physical activity. It was, therefore, necessary to maintain optimum hydration in order to perform and enjoy this activity. To enhance compliance with this resolve water was packed and carried around at all times.
Physical activity is an important aspect of any weight reduction program (William, Frank, and Victor, 2008). For this initiative swimming and walking were chosen. Physical activity had to be carried out daily for at least 60 minutes. Physical activity has been shown to increase the level of metabolism of various nutrient molecules (Bishop, 2010). Increased metabolism is thought to be high during muscular activity because muscles require more energy at this time (Hardman, Stensel, 2009). Therefore, food molecules that are taken are not converted into fat for storage in visceral organs and adipose tissue. Visceral and adipose tissue fat are present in states of overweight and obesity. These facts are associated with an increased risk for metabolic syndromes like cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus type two (Schneider et al, 2010).
The health belief model was examined as part of a wider behavior change. The health belief model comprises individual beliefs that modify behavior with regard to health. Individual beliefs can affect the outcome of any program aimed at modifying behavior. These beliefs, therefore, need to be clarified before such a program is initiated. For instance, the health belief model influences what an individual eats and how much exercise is undertaken if any (Pollan, 2008).
A major barrier to this program was tiredness and exhaustion related to an underlying medical condition (multiple sclerosis). To circumvent this problem enough sleep and strict adherence to medication were used. Another potential challenge to healthy eating was the rising cost of fresh produce like fruits and vegetables. This challenge was solved by drawing and sticking to a budget.
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Measurement of outcome
The parameters which were used to measure outcomes of the program included noting differences in weight, calculation of Body Mass Index, a feeling of wellbeing, and better control of multiple sclerosis.
The program achieved its objective of maintaining a healthy body mass index. This was evidenced by a calculated Body Mass Index of less than 25 at the end of the program. Following the success of this program, recommendations that can be made include eating sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables to improve the immune status, taking sufficient or optimum amounts of water to maintain adequate hydration as this is important for proper body functioning, making exercise or physical activity a routine because this helps in weight reduction. Challenges to a program of this nature should be anticipated and mitigation measures should be put in place at the beginning of the program.
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Zoellner, J., Connell, C., Bounds, W., Crook, L., Yadrick, K. (2009). Nutrition Literacy Status and Preferred Nutrition Communications Channels Among Adults in the Lower Mississippi Delta. Preventing Chronic Disease, Public Health Research, Practice and Policy. Web.
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