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Step up to nutrition and health, with help from the National Agricultural Library
by Dennis Smith, MS, RD, National Agricultural Library
(As originally submitted for publication in the Beltsville News March 2006.) logo, computer and appleBELTSVILLE, MD, March 2006--The U.S. is facing a national health epidemic: More than 65% of adults in the U.S. are overweight, including 30% obese. More than 15% of U.S. children are obese. This can lead to serious personal consequences—diabetes, heart condition. Where do you turn for help? Should you believe the latest diet or health promotion books?

With some help from USDA’s National Agricultural Library (NAL) in Beltsville, you can get accurate food and nutrition information to help address overweight, obesity, and other health concerns. NAL has a Food and Nutrition Information Center, staffed primarily by Registered Dietitians (RD), and hosts the respected government-wide Web site for science-based nutrition information,

NAL is recognizing March as National Nutrition Month ® (NNM), sponsored annually by the American Dietetic Association. This year’s theme, “Step Up to Nutrition & Health,” encourages everyone to step up by making healthier lifestyle choices to improve their health and the health of their families. The key elements in doing this are based on the 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

  • Make smart choices from every food group. Give your body the balanced nutrition it needs by eating a variety of nutrient-packed foods every day. Just be sure to stay within your daily calorie needs.
  • Get the most nutrition out of your calories. Choose the most nutritionally rich foods you can from each food group each day - those packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients but lower in calories.
  • Find your balance between food and physical activity. Regular physical activity is important for your overall health and fitness plus it helps control body weight, promotes a feeling of well-being and reduces the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Play it safe with foods. Prepare, handle and store food properly to keep you and your family safe.

You can visit for information and tools which you can use to step up to nutrition and health, including the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid which can guide your steps to a healthier future. Visit the Smart Nutrition 101 page, find healthy recipes, or ask a question at Remember, small steps can equal big rewards; the steps you take today will help you reap benefits for years to come.

If you would like to learn more about agricultural information, you are welcome to visit the NAL via its Web site, or in person Monday-Friday, except Federal holidays, from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Tours and presentations about the library may be arranged through the public affairs office by calling 301.504.6778.

Last Modified: Oct 31, 2012
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