This map shows the area where La Salle gives back to community residents. There are churches and food pantries.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (USDA) 2015 dietary guidelines have created a controversy throughout the country due to the fact that it states that Americans should reduce their intake of red and processed meats. The dietary guidelines are updated every five years in a joint effort by the Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA to encourage people to eat a healthful diet to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, promote health and prevent disease.
Professor Jule Ann Henstenburg, director of the Nutrition program at La Salle University, said, “Usually, there’s lots of controversy in these guidelines because it’s long been thought that they’re fairly influenced by the food industry.” However, this newest guideline is asking Americans to limit their red meat consumption, which is something that has never before been stated in the guidelines.
Meanwhile, there are new movements taking place that are urging people to stay away from red meats. Meatless Mondays is a non-profit initiative with the message, “Once a week, cut the meat.” The goal of this movement is to reduce meat consumption by 15% for personal health and the health of the planet.
The Meatless Mondays Movement works in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. According to their statistics, “Making one hamburger destroys approximately 55 square feet of rainforest.”
“One day off from meat can help sustainability in regard to the planet,” said Henstenburg. She went on to explain, “Eating meat is the most inefficient and resource intensive thing that a lot of us do.”
While there are many people in favor of cutting back on red meat consumption, there are also many opposed. One comment from the dietary guideline’s open forum stated, “As a cattle producer I take great pride in the beef products that I produce for America’s consumers. Today’s beef supply is leaner than ever before with more than 30 cuts of beef recognized as lean by the government’s own standards.”
The Exploring Nutrition Project aims to educate and promote healthy eating within the surrounding community of La Salle University. This past weekend, the Easter Food Drive took place and volunteers from La Salle came out to help deliver donated food to those in need. For a full re-cap of the event, watch the following presentation by clicking on the photo.
More than one third of adults in the United States are obese. Obesity can cause heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer if left untreated. To combat this growing issue, La Salle University’s psychology department is working to target obesity.
Dr. Edie Goldbacher, a La Salle psychology professor, studies eating patterns and weight difficulties. Because of La Salle’s urban location, professionals are able to provide services to people who may have otherwise not been able to afford them. “I’ve come to appreciate the importance of offering services to people who are really in need, which is one of the things I really like about what we can do here at La Salle,” said Goldbacher.
Some factors that contribute to obesity include: decreases in physical activity, miseducation about the severity of obesity, lack of access to healthy foods and portion sizes. Portion sizes have increased over the years, so people are used to eating much more food than their great-grandparents did way back when, for example. “Portion sizes have changed dramatically over time. For an extra ten cents you can triple the value of the meal,” said Goldbacher.
According to the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, obesity emerges because “genetics loads the gun and the environment pulls the trigger.” While genetics do not directly cause obesity, they are a factor for placing an individual at a greater risk for developing it. Goldbacher explained “Environmental factors are going to make it even more difficult for a person to have a healthy weight. If a person has a history of family obesity, they themselves will have a higher risk. That coupled with living in a food desert makes it even more problematic.”
These factors have contributed to obesity all over America, even right here in La Salle’s own neighborhood. Goldbacher and other clinical psychologists are working to help treat individuals with obesity through their Behavioral Weight Loss Treatment program. “There’s a lot of research supporting this type of treatment,” Goldbacher said.
The treatment involves six steps: self-monitoring, goal setting, problem solving, stimulus control, coping and relapse prevention. The program focuses on paying close attention to the foods that you are consuming. “When we’re not paying attention to eating, you may eat more unhealthy foods,” said Goldbacher.
By assisting residents in the surrounding neighborhood with obesity education and programs to target obesity, La Salle is aiming to decrease obesity and increase healthy lifestyles.