Programs that evaluate an individual's height, weight and body composition as a means of assessing overall health and fitness. Included are programs that calculate a person's Body Mass Index (BMI), a figure that is based on the weight (in kilograms) divided by the height (in metres) squared and interpreted using a table which shows value ranges for people who are underweight, have normal weight or are overweight; and those that look at the individual's body weight in terms of percentage of body fat, lean body mass (including organs, muscle and bone) and percentage of body water. Personalized recommendations for nutrition and exercise may also be provided for people with underdeveloped musculature or excessive body fat. These tests may be provided as components of nutrition assessment and prescription services or physical fitness assessment programs, but are often available as separate screenings.
Programs that evaluate an individual's nutritional history and dietary intake and develop a plan which ensures that the person's nutritional needs are met. The evaluation includes a review of the individual's food habits and preferences, an assessment of his or her feeding skills and eating problems and an analysis of biochemical and anthropometric variables including the person's height and weight and the fat content of his or her body.
Programs that maintain lists of dietitians and nutritionists, and link individuals with qualified practitioners who can help them develop healthy eating habits and change their diet, if necessary, to manage their weight, reduce their cholesterol levels, lower their blood pressure, deal with diabetes or prevent and/or treat other health concerns.
Programs that provide information concerning the basic principles of healthful eating, food handling, food preparation and shopping skills. Included is information about the basic food groups, vitamin and mineral requirements, the relationship of nutrition to the preservation of good health and the prevention of illness, and dietary choices such as vegetarianism.
Programs that promote the benefits of an active lifestyle and encourage people of all ages to participate in regular physical activity as a means of improving health, preventing disease and enhancing the overall quality of their lives. The programs may be tailored for specific populations such as children, adolescents, older adults, employees or people with disabilities; and generally explain why physical activity is important, offer suggestions regarding easy ways to integrate physical activity into a daily routine (such as taking the stairs, going for a walk or parking further away than one usually does), describe specific benefits that can be experienced (such as building strong bones, strengthening muscles, maintaining flexibility, achieving and maintaining ideal weight, maintaining cardiovascular health, meeting new friends and improving physical self-esteem), and provide guidelines for the type and level of activity that is required to develop and maintain fitness or achieve other health-related goals.
Programs that help people who have a family history or other risk factors associated with a chronic disease such as heart disease and stroke, cancer and diabetes make lifestyle or other changes that can prevent the disease or limit the initial onset. In addition to health promotion activities that encourage healthy living, prevention also embraces early detection efforts, including screening at-risk populations, as well as strong community-clinical linkages to help ensure that people at high risk of chronic diseases have access to community resources and support to prevent, delay or manage chronic conditions once they occur. Some programs may provide preventive care interventions for people who have a broader array of health concerns.
Programs that provide activities for people who want to improve their strength, flexibility, endurance, muscle tone, reflexes, cardiovascular health and/or other aspects of physical functioning.
Programs that provide access to free weight equipment, ankle weights, weight machines, treadmills, exercise bikes, rowing equipment, step machines, weight benches, exercise mats, pedometers, stopwatches and other gear that is used to improve physical fitness.
Mutual support groups whose members are individuals who have a problem with compulsive eating, who eat the wrong foods or are people who are overweight and are using the group to develop self-esteem and self-confidence, and accept themselves as they are. Also included are groups that are structured specifically for or accept people who have a diagnosed eating disorder. The groups meet in-person, by telephone or via the Internet; provide emotional support, information and resources for those who participate; offer weight loss or weight gain support only, no special diets; and may include faith-based and secular 12-step groups as well as non-12 step groups.
Multidisciplinary programs, often offered on an inpatient basis with post-discharge outpatient therapy, that provide comprehensive diagnostic and treatment services for individuals who have anorexia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, bulimia or a related eating disorder. Treatment depends on the specific type of eating disorder involved but typically involves psychotherapy, nutrition education, family counselling, medication and hospitalization, if required, to stabilize the patient's health.
Programs that raise awareness and educate the community about body image and eating issues while promoting normal eating, active living, self-acceptance, and respect and appreciation for size diversity. "Body image" refers to a person's perception of his or her own physical appearance. People with a poor body image perceive their own body as being unattractive or even repulsive to others while people with a good body image, or positive "body acceptance", either see themselves as attractive to others, or are willing accept their body as it is. Concerns about body image have led to poor self-esteem, reluctance to participate in physical activities, preoccupation with weight and dieting and an increase in the likelihood of developing an eating disorder.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.