50 years ago, National Nutrition Month® became an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. March is a time to learn more about developing healthy habits, like making informed food choices by eating healthy food and making a point to include physical activity into your daily routine.

Each year County Health Rankings releases a report on every community in the United States. The report gives a snapshot in real time of how healthy communities are in a variety of factors.

The 2022 report includes a Food Environment Index Score, which includes access to healthy foods and food insecurity on a scale of 1 (worst) and 10 (best). Pennsylvania’s index score is 8.4 out of 10 and the United States’ score is 7.8 out of 10. Locally, Cambria County’s score is 7.6 out of 10 and Somerset County’s score is 8.0 out of 10.

Physical inactivity (percentage of adults 18 and over reporting no leisure-time physical activity). is also calculated. Cambria County and Somerset County report that 28% and 29% of adults report no leisure-time physical activity, respectively. Both numbers are higher than Pennsylvania (25%) and the United States (26%).

This year’s National Nutrition Month®  theme is “Fuel for the Future,” and reminds everyone to eat with sustainability in mind. Harvard University’s School of Public Health reports that livestock production (meat, milk, and eggs) “contributes to 40 percent of global agricultural gross domestic product, and uses one-third of the world’s fresh water.”

What we eat has large impact on the environment and if sustainable eating is prioritized individuals will become healthier while the planet does too.

Harvard released 5 tips for sustainable eating:

  1. Prioritize plants by filling half your plate with vegetables and fruit. Eating more plant-based meals will help reduce freshwater withdrawals and deforestation.
  2. Minimize meat because it is a substantial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (especially beef), and has environmental burdens because raising and transporting livestock requires more food, water, land, and energy than plants.
  3. Select new seafood because some species are at risk of being overfished or produced in ways that harm the marine environment. Read the “avoid list” to try new seafood.
  4. Look local by buying from farmers markets. Also, have conversations with the people who grow your food so you can learn more about the process.
  5. Eat mindfully by focusing on what you are eating, reflecting on where you’re food came from, and how it nourishes your body. Focusing on eating can tune you into your own hunger cues making your realize you may not need as much food as you thought.

This month, be sure to practice healthier eating habits that are not only better for you but also the environment.