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How can we raise health & nutrition awareness?

Increasing waist circumference, body fat and obesity are becoming so ordinary nowadays. Junk food and "fake" food have become the main course for many and the existence of a varied diet and sufficient physical (as well as mental) activity are absent.

I believe there is no need for further statistics regarding increasing obesity rates.

A lot of middle/lower class people have come to believe that a healthy diet is an expensive diet, people are aiming for quantity rather than quality (at least that is the case in Romania and certain Eastern European countries). I've been trying to convince as many people as possible about the effects of their diets and benefits of exercise through social conversations, but the stubbornness is persistent.

Not to mention that there is a wide gap in the organic market, and local farmers are dominated by importers. (This would be an opportunity for the creation of a local organic market, even though the agricultural sector in Romania needs a lot of improvement, excluding the industrialized grain and dairy production.)

My main question is: How can we raise nutritional awareness in a stubborn community? Any ideas are more than welcome!

I've recently applied for a TEDx license in an attempt to gather a few health-care professionals, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to jump-start a new lifestyle!

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Closing Statement from Fadi Draghici

I would like to thank you for your answers! They've inspired me and I will start working on a plan and looking up financial sources such as the European funds (I'm 19, so this project is over my head considering the fact that not many people would take my prepositions seriously).

I've come to the conclusion that by advertising the effects of good, real foods in a childish manner (colorful, non-businesslike prints, etc.) we could relate to a wider audience! In order to do this, I'll be required to establish an NGO first.

Now that you've helped me realise the importance of education regarding this matter, targeting elementary schools and playground would be a great idea!

Thanks again!

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    Feb 20 2012: I would say if you could start with teaching children the importance of Nutrition and to teach the basic fundamentals of how to grow their own food organically or bio organically that would be a start.

    I recently wrote a diet and exercise plan for a close friend in Mitrovica who wanted to loose weight, he was so stubborn to give up the Cevapi to substitute for lean meats and greens but with constant encouragement with his eating and exercising he succeeded. So I sympathise with you when you talk about the stubbornness being persistent :) but trust me its when they start to see results they start to believe- and thats when they start creating their own miracles!

    On the other hand with some ideas for raising awareness in small communities, I was in New Zealand last year and I visited a friend who works in a small community health clinic for people suffering from diabetes, and what they had in this clinic was a wall covered in the most common foods being consumed in that community for example: KFC, McDonalds, Deep fried foods, Soft drinks etc.. next to the moulds of food they had synthetically weighed out the fat and sugar content for each of these foods to emphasise visually the over consumption being made.

    Their results for doing something small like this did wonders for their community as children and teenagers were revolted in the amounts of fats that were being consumed by their loved ones and friends so together they started walking groups and group visits to the local markets to and taste new foods.
    Obesity is chronic here in Australia and New Zealand and is heavily influenced by fast foods and diet pills.

    You have many advantages where you are seeing as your produce is very rich and organic so rather than focus on the consumption maybe focus on the energy output that is being spent? More community activities? Fun runs, triathlons, salsa,yoga , etc.

    Changing ones attitude is hard but supporting the change of habit over time can have a lasting effect :)
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    Feb 18 2012: Educate yourself, then east and exercise wisely with a bit of discipline.
    Try and make healthy living and eating fun and interesting.
    Make good habits - maybe have some goals.
    Measurement - keep track. Adjust if necessary.
    Find the balance that works for you
    Teach your kids good eating habits.
    Eat more at home - less rubbish takeaways.
    Live the end state you desire - identify the issues or challenges to finding out or eating healthy.
    It's not rocket science yet it is very difficult. We evolved our taste preferences and appetite behaviours when resources were scant.

    So start with yourself. Schooling second. Regulation 3rd.

    Suggest others and the community need to want to change, to see a problem first.
    General and local data - trends and comparisions. lifespan, health costs, impacts = clear problem.
    With some solutions ready to go - low cost big impact frist.
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    Feb 14 2012: I don't think 'awareness of health' is any more necessary than 'awareness of africas poverty',
    Everyone knows that eating a vegetable is better for you than a bar of chocolate and everyone can (atleast in most cases) decypher what foods are good for you and what aren't.

    The core of the issue is typically:
    (1) Foods that are bad for you taste better
    (2) Health foods often work out to be more expensive
    (3) Children are not typically raised with a diet that makes them voluntarily choose vegetables/fruit as they age

    Having a TEDtalk with health professionals is a great idea, but you may want to throw in some chefs who have experience in creating cheap and healthy meals that people would like
    (Doesn't have to prepare the foods on stage for anything along those lines, just needs to explain how cheap and easy it is).
    • Feb 18 2012: I would not underestimate the power of suggestion or advertising. For example, which foods are 'bad' for us? The the comparison of sugar with vegetables is not too difficult to resolve. The comparison of fats with carbohydrates (sugars) is less clear. For 5 decades we have been informed that fats and cholesterol are bad for us. Heart disease is supposed to be caused by fats clogging up our arteries. Oddly, there is not a single piece of medical evidence which supports this notion. Heart disease incidence continues to rise despite the low fat lobby. We must be doing something wrong.

      About 25% of the total cholesterol in the body resides in the brain... it must serve a purpose or else it would not be there. It is difficult for me to understand how we are all born with a large amount of a molecule that only has the purpose of killing us in later life. what the food/pharmaceutical industry wants you to believe and adopt as your food life style is that their transfats, and a myriad chemical moderators, are essential to you living a long a healthy life.Nothing could be further from the truth of the matter... once the golden goose is killed (you, the consumer) there are millions of other willing golden geese to take your place.

      Altruism in pharmaceuticals and food products does not exist. The only benefit is to the companies which sucker you into believing they care about your healthy lifestyle. Obesity is largely the product of us listening to all of the available 'good dietary advice' which emanates from the factories of the food & pharmaceutical industry.
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    Feb 14 2012: I hope you get some advice from those with expertise in this area, which is something I do not have. I only want to raise a question. I live in a country in which there is a high level of nutrition awareness, in the sense that one can hardly miss from earliest childhood learning about the importance of fruits and vegetables and lean proteins, the dangers of excess sugars and fats, the merits of exercise... and yet the population gets fatter and fatter. Celebrities and political figures are vocal spokespeople for sound nutrition and fitness as well.
    What this suggests to me is that defining the problem as a lack of awareness of the merits of nutritious eating and exercise may not lead to the most effective solution. There is a difference between not knowing and not acting.