Thursday, April 28, 2005
Pyramid Web site a step toward good health

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital,
Medical director

The suggestions that we have a healthy lifestyle are everywhere. Computers are becoming more and more common as well. The government has put the two of these things together in its new food pyramid. For years we have seen the food pyramid that tells us how many helpings of fruits and vegetables to eat. It tells us how many helpings of bread and grains to eat. It tells us how many helpings of dairy products to eat. It tells us how many helpings of meat to eat. Over the years the pyramid has had some modifications. The changes in the past have been minor. The pyramid has been the same for everyone who uses it. Now the approach has changed entirely. There is a new Web site. It is This Web site creates a pyramid that is specific to each individual. When you go onto the Web site, it asks you three basic questions. One is your age. The second is your sex. The third is your level of physical activity on an average day. Once you enter that information, it gives you a personal printout of what you should be having in the way of calories. It gives you a suggestion as to the level of physical activity. It also gives suggestions as to how much oil you should have. It gives suggestions as to what the maximum number of calories per day in solid fats (like butter) and sugars you should have. It then breaks down the suggested foods into five different categories. Those categories are grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and meat/beans. It gives the number of ounces or number of cups of each type of food. Those suggestions are all general. You then can get a printout of what is called, My Pyramid Worksheet. This gives you a chance to keep track of your daily intake on a list. Once you have done that, there is another location on the Web site that allows you to enter in the exact foods that you have eaten that day. For example, you can put in “apple.” That will give you a list of things containing apple. The list includes things like plain apples. It contains things like apple butter. It contains apple cider and apple pie. You then select which of those you have eaten. It then gives you a choice of how much you have eaten. For example, you can choose from large apple, medium apple or apple slice. If you choose a medium apple, it will then calculate the number of calories that you have eaten. It will calculate the amount of fat, protein and carbohydrate. It will calculate the amount of fiber. It will calculate vitamins and minerals. It will then show you what the recommendation for the day would be so that you can see how much that apple put you toward that recommendation. You can also have it draw up a graph of how much you have eaten in comparison to the total. You can then do the same thing for the amount of activity during the day. It too can be as detailed as you desire. For example, if you search on “television” you will find entries for lying quietly watching television and sitting quietly watching television. When you select one of those, it will tell you that you expended no significant calories in that activity. If you use your computer frequently, all you will need to do is keep a daily list of activity and food. That will allow you to have an exact calculation of where you stand. The bottom line is that there is now a readily available tool that will help guide your lifestyle in as much depth as you desire. This is a major step forward in helping us focus on our daily activities in a way that is more meaningful than just the same pyramid for everyone.
Health week will mean free exams, info for women
Women can receive health information and free screenings from Delaware’s Division of Public Health on Monday, May 9, in celebration of National Women’s Check-Up Day. The event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Blue Hen Corporate Center, 655 Bay Rd., Dover, across from the Delaware Department of Transportation’s campus. Free screenings include blood pressure, stroke risk, hearing, vision, diabetes, body mass and foot health. Free health literature on nutrition, exercise, medical coverage and other topics will also be available. Also during Women’s Health Week, May 8 to 14, several reproductive health and family planning sites will offer women’s reproductive health exams at reduced rates or at no cost. For information on these exams, call the Delaware Help Line at (800) 464-4357 or search In 2004, more than 1,000 events and health screenings were held during National Women’s Health Week in all 50 states, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Sponsors of National Women’s Check-Up Day include Delaware’s Division of Social Services, the Office of Lt. Governor John C. Carney Jr., the Delaware Health Care Commission, Blue Hen Corporate Center, BayHealth Medical Center, STAR Technical Institute, the Delaware Insurance Commissioner’s Office, Christiana Care Wellness Center, Modern Maturity Center, Delmarva Rural Ministries, Dr. Jeffrey C. Barton and the Delaware Covering Kids and Families Program. For more information, contact Norman Clendaniel of DPH at (302) 741-2980.