Small changes; big impact


Maybe you made the New Year’s resolution to lose weight. If so, great, because the weight you’re at really does make a difference in determining cancer risk. Those who are overweight or obese are at greater risk for cancer – as well as diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. The fact is; obesity lowers life expectancy.

For anyone overweight, you’re not alone – two out of three Americans are overweight. And 35 percent of adults now have a Body Mass Index of 30 or higher – which is the classification for obesity. What does it mean? That as a nation, we’re packing on the pounds – rapidly – and its endangering our health.

Worse yet, our kids are eating too much. In the past 20 years, being overweight among adolescents aged 12 to 19 has more than tripled, climbing from 5 percent to 17.1 percent. Increases have occurred across race, ethnicity and gender.

The good news is, making a few simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference, and help you and your family live a cancer-free life.

It starts with getting back to the basics – the way our ancestors did – eating whole, healthy foods to stay well. In fact, the traditional Native American diet was one of the best nutritional strategies, because it was a healthy, plant-based diet.

The secret to a healthier lifestyle, according to the American Cancer Society, is to eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, limit processed foods and red meats, and exercise 30 minutes daily. Teach your kids to make good food choices – establishing habits of healthy eating early in life can prevent obesity. If you need to lose weight, do it through a low calorie diet and exercise. The goal isn’t about getting skinny; the goal is about healthy weight, energy, harmony and balance.

Great news: Even a weight loss of just 5 to 10 percent of total weight can provide health benefits. So small changes can make a big difference.

More secrets from the ACS Web site to help you lose weight: At, there are tools and resources to:

  • Help you determine healthy portions and serving sizes. (hint: supersizing is out)
  • Fight cancer with fun videos; a Master Chef reveals cooking secrets.

  • Help you stay motivated by signing up for personalized e-mails that inspire you to meet your diet goals (it’s like an e-mail friend who continually cheers you on)

  • Find great recipes – mouth-watering and good for you.

  • Try quick entrees –when you’re hungry and in a hurry.

My favorite tip from the ACS Web Site: Quick entrees

Healthy in a Hurry

Try these quick entrees when you’re hungry and in a hurry:

  • Make English muffin pizzas using pizza sauce and reduced fat mozzarella cheese. Top with your favorite vegetables – mushrooms, onions, green peppers, tomatos, artichoke hearts. ... whatever you like.
  • Top mini bagels with peanut butter or cheese and a sliced apple.

  • Make quick and easy chili with lean ground turkey breast, canned kidney beans, tomato sauce, onion, tomatoes, and chili seasoning packet.

  • Microwave a potato and top with broccoli and cheese.

  • Stuff whole wheat tortillas with canned black beans, lettuce, salsa, cheese, and low fat sour cream.

  • Top mixed salad greens with pasta and cubed cheese of your choice. Top with low fat Caesar or Italian dressing.

This is the year to think differently about your New Year’s resolutions – and stick with them. Reducing cancer risk helps you stay well. More tips on healthy eating online or call (800) 227-2345.

At the American Cancer Society, we are working to save lives and create a world with less cancer and more birthdays. We are fighting for every life threatened by every cancer in every community. We recognize each community has different needs and we’re here to help everyone stay well and get well, to find cures, and to fight back against cancer. For help anytime, visit ACS online or call (800) 227-2345.

For information on this article, contact Charlotte Hofer, American Cancer Society at