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|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|Wednesday, March 26, 2003
||Contact: AoA Press Office
AoA Announces Practical Nutrition Recommendations For Older Americans During National Nutrition Month
HHS Assistant Secretary for Aging Josefina G. Carbonell today
announced practical nutrition recommendations to help promote
health and prevent disease among older Americans in the United
States at the Camp Springs Senior Center in Camp Springs, Maryland.
“Since this is National Nutrition Month, we are highlighting
steps older Americans can take to reduce their risks for major
chronic disease conditions by improving their diets,” says
Assistant Secretary Carbonell. “Through Secretary Tommy
G. Thompson’s prevention initiative, Steps to a HealthierUS,
we are helping to ensure older Americans know about the very simple
things they can do to prevent illness: eat a healthy diet, don’t
smoke and increase physical activity.”
Diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and osteoporosis are
diseases that disproportionately affect older persons. Diabetes
is of particular concern because it is on the rise among all age
groups and is most prevalent in older age groups. In the years
1980 - 1999, its prevalence was 13 times greater for people aged
65-74 than for people less than 45 years of age.
Examples of ways to promote health and prevent disease during
National Nutrition Month include:
- Aiming for a healthy weight by controlling portion sizes
and being physically active every day.
- Eating a wide variety of foods.
- Eating more high fiber foods made from whole grains, beans,
- Eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
- Choosing a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Choosing and prepare foods with less salt.
- Eating calcium-rich foods like low-fat milk and cheese for
- Drinking plenty of beverages and stay hydrated.
Assistant Secretary Carbonell continued, “As Secretary
Thompson emphasizes through Steps to a HealthierUS, the good news
is that small changes in diet and other lifestyle behaviors can
make a big difference in helping people live longer and more healthfully.
Start now by making one or two changes during National Nutrition
Month. Making healthy lifestyle changes can also help older Americans
prolong their independence by maintaining hearing and vision,
physical strength, and mobility.”
The Administration on Aging (AoA) developed practical recommendations
based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans published by the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department
of Agriculture in 2000. AoA added a recommendation “to drink
plenty of beverages to stay hydrated” because it is an issue
of particular concern among older Americans.
Persons aged 65 and older eat better quality diets than younger
age groups based on the most recent Healthy Eating Index Scores
developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Healthy Eating
Index is comprised of 10 components derived from the U.S.D.A.
Food Guide Pyramid and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Still,
a majority of older persons reported diets that needed improvement
based on data from the Federal Government’s 1999-2000 National
Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Scores were
lowest for servings of fruit and milk products among adults aged
“I am taking personal responsibility for improving my diet
this month by beginning to drink a glass of low-fat milk with
dinner and eating a piece of fruit as a snack,” said Assistant
The AoA funded Older American Act (OAA) Nutrition Program serves
meals to approximately three million older persons at approximately
11,000 Senior Centers across the country. Meals are available
at congregate meal sites and are delivered to homes. The OAA Nutrition
Program also provides a range of related services including nutrition
screening, assessment, education and counseling.