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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Weighty Issues

Published March 1, 2011 2:35 PM by Friedman Diana

In February, city officials from Newark, NJ, (many of them overweight or obese) got on a scale…in front of the entire community. I know, I know, why would someone do such a thing?

Well, it wasn’t part of some exhibitionist fantasy; rather it was sense of duty (to themselves, their families and the entire Newark community) that compelled city leaders to get on the scale.

Early last month, Mayor Booker launched the “Newark Beth Challenge” to inspire the entire city of Newark to lose weight and get fit over 12 weeks. By weighing in (in front of an audience), city officials were documenting their baseline weight and making a commitment to shed pounds and step-up their exercise over the next 3 months, following a program designed by Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, part of the Saint Barnabas Health Care System.

“This is a crisis in our nation and city. Over 50 percent of our children are either overweight, obese, or grossly obese” said Mayor Booker. “We must be healthy for not only our fellow adults, but our children. Children may not listen to their elders, but they never fail to imitate them.”

I think the Mayor’s statements ring true to many of us. Asking children, or indeed patients, to “do as I say, not as I do” seems a bit hypocritical.  But let’s be honest, while nurses have the necessary information to make healthy choices, they face the very same challenges as people in any other profession when it comes to staying fit.

Here’s my question: Do you feel a responsibility to model a healthy lifestyle (including a healthy weight and healthy exercise habits) for your patients? After all, nurses are the ultimate patient educators. Are they also the ultimate role models when it comes to healthy behaviors?

I, for one, feel a bit inspired by the efforts going on in Newark. So, I’m committing right now to a healthier Spring. Now, I’m not going to tell you my weight, but I would appreciate any tips you can share on how you manage to fit healthy behaviors (exercise, balanced meals, etc.) into your busy schedules—because nurses are, unquestionably, role models to me.

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