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National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. National Nutrition Month® originated in 1973 as “National Nutrition Week” and expanded to a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing public interest in nutrition. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage an increased focus on fruits and vegetables and an understanding of proper portion sizes. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics helps consumers understand how to implement these suggestions into their daily lives with “Get Your Plate in Shape,” this year’s theme of National Nutrition Month®. This year’s theme encourages consumers to ensure they are eating the recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein foods and low-fat dairy each day. These foods contain the nutrients you need without too many calories.
A proclamation will be made on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at the Hidalgo County Commissioner’s Court proclaiming March as National Nutrition Month® and March 14th as Registered Dietitian Day. In observance of National Nutrition Month®, the Hidalgo County WIC Program’s nutrition education class for the month of March is a Nutrition Fair. The fair consists of three booths, with topics that include Physical Activity, Dental Health and Low-Fat Milk. The participants are invited to go through the different booths and learn the importance of having a healthy lifestyle. Jump ropes, toothpaste, toothbrushes and literature are also given to the participants as incentives to promote healthy living. Along with the Nutrition Fair, each clinic has a bulletin board promoting National Nutrition Month®.
In addition to National Nutrition Month®, Registered Dietitian Day is also celebrated in March. It takes place this year on March 14. Registered Dietitian Day was created to increase the awareness of registered dietitians as the indispensable providers of food and nutrition services and to recognize RDs for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives. Registered Dietitians are highly qualified food and nutrition experts who meet academic and professional requirements, including earning at least a bachelor’s degree, completing a supervised practice program and passing a registration exam. The RD credential is a vital distinction when determining where Americans and people around the world can get safe and accurate information. Registered Dietitians work throughout the community in hospitals, schools, public health clinics, nursing homes, fitness centers, food management, food industry, universities, research and private practice. The Hidalgo County WIC Program has nine Registered Dietitians on staff that provide specialized counseling to WIC participants, who may have gestational diabetes, low maternal weight gain or overweight children. These specialized services are free of charge to WIC participants.
As part of this public education campaign, the Academy's National Nutrition Month website www.eatright.org/nnm includes helpful tips, fun games, promotional tools and nutrition education resources, all designed to spread the message of good nutrition around the "Get Your Plate in Shape" theme.