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May 18, 2006

Haywood County program helps participants 'Shake off the Holidays'

Jean Burton weighs participant
Jean Burton, left, helps weigh a particpant in Haywood County's 'Shake off the Holidays' program.

Most Americans find their pants fitting a little tighter after the holidays, resulting in those well-intentional New Year’s resolutions to lose a few pounds. Jean Burton, Haywood County family and consumer sciences agent, developed a nutrition education program called “Shake Off the Holidays,” to help people shake it off and keep it off longer.

In January, Burton began the 10-week program to help participants develop long-term healthy lifestyles to help with weight management. Many members of the original group of about 20 chose to participate in the program because of concern over serious weight-related health problems.

Out of the 20 original participants, only one or two had a normal body mass index, two were considered overweight, while most were extremely overweight or obese, Burton said, adding, “This is truly a health issue with them.”

Twelve participants completed the entire course, with an average weight loss of 8 pounds. The average was lower because a few participants did not have much to lose, Burton said. However one participate lost 20 pounds and another lost 17.

Participants reported a variety of behavior changes as a result of the class, including eating smaller portions, reading food labels, watching fats, drinking more water and increasing activity. One participant reported having less back pain as a result of weight loss.

After the first class, participants were encouraged to record everything they ate. The second class offered participants a chance to make observations about changes they could make in eating or exercise pattern changes. Other class topics included physical activity, facts about fat and cholesterol; water, fiber and sleep; grocery shopping, holidays, restaurant dining. They wrapped up with a class on “shaking it off: how to keep it up.”

Burton, who has a nursing and health education background, has decided to continue the class through 2006, meeting in the evening every other week. New members of the community continue to join the group.

“These classes have helped to support and encourage changes I had already started making,” one participant said. “I am very happy the classes will continue.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at May 18, 2006 10:50 AM