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San Bernardino and Riverside Celebrates National 5 A Day Week

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San Bernardino

More than 2,000 San Bernardino and Riverside area Girl and Boy Scouts learned about nutrition and healthy eating habits during the Nutrition Olympics recently held at Glen Helen Regional Park in Devore.

For the first time and in conjunction with National 5 A Day Week, the annual Camporee and Rodeo included a focus on children's health. Scouts engaged in a weekend full of physical activity as they learned about nutrition in a fun and interactive way.

This year, the California 5 a Day Campaign and California Nutrition Network for Healthy, Active Families celebrated National 5 A Day Week from September 21-27 with the theme “Get Healthy, California” – a call to action against California’s most pressing health issues, including overweight, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases.

“Get Healthy, California” encourages community-wide change, asking Californians across the state to be physically active and eat 5 to 9 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables every day. More than 200 different studies have shown that, compared to eating only two servings, eating 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables (in combination with daily physical activity) every day cuts cancer risks in half.

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables also reduces the risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and birth defects. Combined with daily physical activity, eating 5 to 9 daily servings of fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a lifestyle to reduce obesity and maintain a healthy weight.

"While 5 A Day Week is a celebration, it does not take away from the fact that California's children are facing a very real health crisis," said Melodee Lopez, project manager for the San Bernardino and Riverside Counties California 5 a Day Power Play! Campaign, referring to studies showing that in California more than one out of every three 9 – 11-year-olds is at risk for becoming or is already overweight.

If left untreated, being overweight may increase the likelihood of developing chronic diseases – such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers – in adulthood. Type 2 diabetes, previously considered an adult disease, has increased dramatically among children and adolescents, and being overweight is closely linked to type 2 diabetes.

"The increased rates of childhood overweight and type 2 diabetes are alarming," Lopez added. "Now is the time to take action to help our children 'Get Healthy'."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, chronic diseases resulting from lifestyle choices, such as physical inactivity and an unhealthy diet, account for at least 300,000 U.S. deaths each year. San Bernardino County has the dubious distinction of having the highest age-adjusted rate of heart disease in the state.

These chronic diseases, resulting from inactivity and being overweight, cost California an estimated $24.6 billion a year in direct medical, lost productivity and workers’ compensation costs. Scientific evidence indicates the risk of developing chronic diseases can be greatly reduced by behavioral changes, such as increasing fruit and vegetable consumption to a minimum of 5 servings a day, and regular physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle.

“Good health should be a year-round priority, and we want 5 A Day Week to serve as a wake-up call as we encourage our citizenry to 'Get Healthy'," Lopez added.

The Nutrition Olympics activities consist of activities such as coconut bowling, cucumber javelin toss, grapefruit shot-put and watermelon weight lifting. Along the way, the kids will also complete a route of physical activities, which give them the opportunity to taste new food and learn about nutrition, especially the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables.

“By promoting 5 A Day Week, we hope to raise awareness in our community that eating 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day can reduce the risks of chronic disease among Californians,” said Lopez. “With this year’s theme as ‘Get Healthy, California’ and in combination with our community partners, we hope to raise awareness and help Californians become healthier and have more energy!”

The California Nutrition Network and the California 5 a Day Campaign work in cooperation with the National 5 A Day Program and more than 300 organizational partners in California to promote good health and reduce the risks of serious chronic diseases, especially cancer.

The goal is to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables to 5 to 9 servings or more daily as part of a low-fat, high-fiber diet and physically active lifestyle. The Network and Campaign are principally funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Stamp Program. For more information, please visit www.ca5aday.com or call 1-888-EAT-FIVE.

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