Yesterday we ran the numbers in Maine’s obesity prevention program 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go!:

5 – fruits and veggies
2 – hours or less of recreational screen time*
1 – hour or more of physical activity
0 – sugary drinks, more water and low-fat milk

* Keep TV/computer out of bedroom. No screen time under the age of 2.


While some states (like Ohio) have embraced the simplicity of only four numbers, others (like Nebraska) try to fill in what’s missing:


5-4-3-2-1 Go! The Healthy Kids Countdown


5 – servings of fruits and vegetables a day

4 – servings of water a day

3 – servings of low-fat dairy a day

2 – hours or less of screen time a day

1 – or more hours of physical activity a day!


The four servings of water a day is an excellent goal for all of us, though adults might want to strive for more.  Water is an important beverage not just because it has no sugar but also because it helps you feel full while you are eating.  In fact, a common strategy among dieters is to drink a large glass of water just prior to sitting down to a meal.  This effectively shrinks the leftover volume of the stomach (there’s less room in the stomach for food) so less is eaten.

The three servings of low-fat dairy is a little problematic.  Milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products provide important protein and calcium (and in the case of milk, vitamin D).  While there are other good sources of protein (meat, eggs, nuts, and legumes including beans and peanuts), the best foods to find calcium are in dairy products.  However, three servings a day of dairy provide enough calcium for children.  Once kids enter their early teen years, they need 4-5 servings a day; older teenagers and adults need even more more than that — 5-6 servings a day (1,000-1,200 mg. of calcium per day) and more during pregnancy!

Learning ZoneXpress saw the problem with dairy and replaced the three servings of low-fat dairy with something important for people of all ages: Three good laughs a day!  Markham Heid agrees:

It may not be the best medicine. But laughter’s great for you, and it may even compare to a proper diet and exercise when it comes to keeping you healthy and disease free.


In fact, there have been many studies relating laughter and stress reduction in people, leading to better overall health.  Heid looked at the science:

[L]aughter shuts down the release of stress hormones like cortisol. It also triggers the production of feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine, which have all kinds of calming, anti-anxiety benefits. Think of laughter as the yin to stress’s yang.

Thanks largely to these stress-quashing powers, laughter has been linked to health benefits ranging from lower levels of inflammation to improved blood flow, Berk says. Some research from Western Kentucky University has also tied a good chuckle to greater numbers and activity of “killer cells,” which your immune system deploys to attack disease. “Many of these same things also happen when you sleep right, eat right, and exercise,” Berk says, which is why he lumps laughter in with more traditional healthy lifestyle activities.

Berk has even shown that laughter causes a change in the way your brain’s many neurons communicate with one another. Specifically, laughter seems to induce “gamma” frequencies—the type of brain waves observed among experienced meditators. These gamma waves improve the “synchronization” of your neuronal activity, which bolsters recall and memory, Berk says.


Finally, Learning ZoneXpress adds a final “+8” to its countdown: Eight hours of sleep per night.



Live 54321 +8


5 – Servings of fruits and vegetables

4 – Glasses of water

3 – Good laughs

2 – Hours or less of screen time

1 – Hour of physical activity

+8 – Hours of sleep


Truly “numbers to live by” every day, not just for kids but for parents, too!