Today is the first day of National Public Health Week. It's an annual initative that promotes healthy living through awareness. Schools all across the United States are spreading the word about many of the topics we will cover this week.

Our series is five parts and contains valuable information for you and your family. Leslie Terjesen of the Ocean County Health Department is also available on a personal, one on one basis, to help you locate the right people or services who can help you if you need it or if you would like more information.

Part 1:  Active Living and Healthy Eating

In part one of our series, we turn the spotlight on becoming healthier Americans through active living and healthy eating.

Look in the mirror. Do you like what you see? Many of us struggle with our weight throughout our lifetime. With busy work schedules and a lack of free time, it's asy to eat and run and grab the wrong things. Fast food has become the main replacement for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a lot of people. Obesity rates continue to skyrocket and the growing epidemic appears to get worse with each passing year.



The statistics are startling. Fewer than 15 percent of adults and 10 percent of adolescents eat the recmmended amount of fruits and vegetables per day and more than two thirds of the population is overweight or obese. One in five children are overweight by the time they hit age six. Many of us don't exercise enough and physical inactivity is a primary contributor to the weight problem in the U.S. and other countries.

Steps To A Healthy Life Don't Have To Be Difficult

Terjesen explains "the steps to living a healthier life don't have to be difficult. Small changes can habe a major impact. We are advising everyone to watch what they eat and get more exercise. There's no excuse for lack of activity. Even if you have to, walk on your lunch break. Squeeze it in. You will live a happier and longer life as a result."

Because of the overweight problem, many parents are outliving their children. The death rates are staggering for childhood obesity. Terjesen says "parents should be a role model for their kids and they need to take care of themselves as well. It's so important to eat the right amount of vegetables and fruits every day. Follow the food pyramid which is now a plate. You'll see a lot less fat and more green items. It doesn't have to be a chore as many of the good foods taste great."

Eating less, eating healthier and exercising regularly can go a long way towards helping you lessen your risk from diseases that could be preventable. They include heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke. Even the smallest of preventive measures and changes to your routines can make huge differences towards living healthier lives.

Schools Get In The Act

Schools are also working to promote healthier lifestyles as well. School lunches have gotten healthier and Michelle Obama's Lets Move Program is being promoted around the country. Terjesen adds "make sure your kids get at least an hour of exercise or physical activity a day. Adults need less with 30 minutes."

Reach the Ocean County Health Department's web site at

You can also call the department and speak to a live person rather than recordings. That number is 732-341-9700.