A program that encouraging drinking water, eating whole foods and 30 minutes of daily walking significantly increased participants’ health.
A study published in the January issue of Advances in Preventive Medicine found that participants in a health program focused on eating healthier calories rather than less calories showed significant improvement in health parameters and weight loss (Short-Term Effectiveness of a Lifestyle Intervention Program for Reducing Selected Chronic Disease Risk factors in Individuals Living in Rural Appalachia: A Pilot Cohort Study, 2014. David Drozek, et al.).
The program utilized the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP), which is a community lifestyle intervention program. Most of the program sessions met 4 times a week for 4 weeks. The individual sessions consisted of an instructional video, a group discussion and an exercise component. The CHIP program focuses on encouraging participants to consume whole foods ad libitum; foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Participants strived to consume less than 10 teaspoons of sugar, 50 mg of cholesterol and 2000 mg of sodium. Furthermore, participants were instructed to consume at least eight glasses of water and keep fat content below 20% total calories. Study participants were self-selected from rural Ohio.
The participants showed significant reductions in body mass index, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and fasting blood levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, and glucose. Those participants who were the most at-risk showed the greatest improvements in the health biomarkers measured.
As our overloaded healthcare system shifts toward preventive care, as directed by the Affordable Care Act, it will be important to find simple ways to improve health. This study highlights easy steps one can take to enhance his or her health. Furthermore, the program was relatively inexpensive and was effective in a rural community with high poverty and obesity. The medical community must play a pivotal role in inspiring healthier lifestyles in the population it serves.