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Small steps to help shape up

By Kat Carney
CNN Headline News

• Shape Up Americaexternal link

(CNN) -- Some Americans have become increasingly anxious about their health in the age of SARS, anthrax mailing scares and West Nile virus.

But perhaps obesity should be a bigger concern. It's the No. 1 health threat in the United States at the moment, experts say.

Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that poor diet and exercise habits almost have caught up with smoking in contributing to the leading cause of death.

Gerberding adds that 65 percent of American adults are overweight or obese and that nearly 40 million adults face serious health risks as a result of obesity.

She calls the nation's rates of obesity a "catastrophe" and says the only way to improve these statistics is for people to make a radical change in their behavior, including more physical activity.

Fortunately, even small changes can help people reach fitness goals.

Shape Up America, a nonprofit group that promotes healthy weight and exercise, offers 99 tips that anyone can do to add physical activity into their daily routines.

For instance, while watching television, put down that remote control and get up to change the channel manually. Even better, turn it off.

When shopping for kids, try to buy toys that require physical activity.

Also, the next time at work, consider walking over to your co-workers' desks rather than communicating with them via computer or phone.

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