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Spotlight on Women's Health This Week

Working with a friend or as part of a team can help women stick to health and diet plans. (Virginia Carter)
Working with a friend or as part of a team can help women stick to health and diet plans. (Virginia Carter)
May 17, 2017

BALTIMORE - Women are being urged to make their own health a priority during National Women's Health Week. This week marks the 18th annual observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Michelle Williams, a singer and former member of the pop group Destiny's Child and now an ambassador for the agency's Office on Women's Health, said women tend to ignore their own needs when they're so busy taking care of everyone else and balancing a career. She said women also claim they're too busy to work out or eat correctly, but she encouraged everyone to get creative.

"It takes 15 to 20 minutes," she said. "It could be while you're making dinner - say, while the spaghetti is boiling. How many minutes does it take for spaghetti to boil? Well, you can do some calf raises, some jumping jacks with the kids or something."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60 percent of U.S. adult women are overweight, and of those, about a third are considered obese.

Williams said women often work better in teams, so her advice was for a women to ask a friend, sister, mother or co-workers to help her hold herself accountable.

"You know how we get on the phone," she said, "and you're talking to your sister or your BFF and you're like, 'Girl, did you hear what happened?' So now we can add, 'Girl, did you get that workout in? Did you eat that salad you said you were going to eat?' I would say start adding that to the conversation."

Jill Wasserman, a health-education specialist for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health who is heading up Women's Health Week, said staying at a healthy weight is a good start, but there's more to it than that.

"We really remind women to make their health a priority," she said, "and we want them to go have a dialogue with their doctor, get active, eat healthy, pay attention to their mental health and avoid unhealthy behaviors such as smoking."

Wasserman said mental and physical health are closely connected. Poor emotional health can lead to overeating, headaches, weakened immune systems and other ailments.

More information is online at

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD