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Healthy Gifts Top Holiday Wish Lists

Survey reveals health-related items make popular gifts for both the naughty and the nice

CARLSBAD, Calif., December 9, 2003 - If you're making a list and checking it twice, make sure your holiday shopping list includes items that are not only good gift ideas, but also good for you. According to a recent survey, health-related gift items are topping holiday wish lists and providing a creative way to show just how much you care.

The survey, which was conducted by Jenny Craig, Inc., revealed that approximately 80 percent of people would appreciate receiving a health-related gift item during the holidays and seven in ten people (69 percent) would consider giving such a gift.

While stockings are traditionally stuffed with sinful sweets and holiday treats, both gift givers and receivers are looking for healthier alternatives this season, especially when it comes to food items. According to the study, healthy food baskets are among some of the most popular healthy gift alternatives. In fact, more than 60 percent of people surveyed said they would "really like to receive" a healthy food basket. Trailing closely behind in popularity among health-related gifts are utensils and appliances for healthy cooking, books on health and wellness, bicycles, exercise equipment, exercise and yoga tapes, gym memberships and spa certificates.

The popularity of these healthy gifts comes at a time when the nation has become increasingly concerned with health hazards such as obesity, inactivity, smoking and poor eating habits. "With increased emphasis on individual health responsibility, people are more likely to think about the choices they make this holiday season as they relate to both their health and the health of their loved ones," said G. Alan Marlatt, Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington. "The holidays are a great opportunity to show that you're concerned about the well-being of your loved ones by giving a gift that encourages healthy habits rather than reinforces bad ones."

While both men and women are turning to healthy gift giving this season, women are more likely than men to appreciate such a gift. According to the survey, more than 60 percent of women said they would very much appreciate a health-related gift during the holidays, while only 45 percent of men said they felt the same way.

"Women are particularly aware of the challenges of maintaining healthy eating habits and a consistent activity routine over the holidays," said Lisa Talamini, senior registered dietitian and director of program development and nutrition for Jenny Craig, Inc. "Women are often juggling so many different activities during the holidays, including cooking holiday meals, that they tend to have less time and experience more stress. Healthy gifts can help women to stay on track with a healthy lifestyle, despite the holiday hustle and bustle."

While healthy gifts can be incredibly valuable during the holidays, they don't have to be expensive. In fact, some of the most creative and thoughtful gifts can cost as little as $5 or $10. For gift givers who are interested in adding a personal touch to their holiday gifts without breaking the bank, Jenny Craig offers the following ideas:

Jenny Craig's Top 10 Healthy Gift Ideas

  • Send a one month supply of bottled water. This will be a "refreshing" change from a box of chocolates and will help to keep your loved ones hydrated during the dry winter months.
  • Stuff a vegetable steamer with healthy cooking items. Steaming minimizes fat and maintains color, texture, and nutrients. Fill it with bottled herbs, flavored vinegars, elephant garlic and a handheld lemon squeezer.
  • Give the gift of relaxation. Pair a bottle of scented oil with a gift certificate for a massage or facial. Both treatments can knead away holiday stress and allow your loved ones to "tune out" and "tune up."
  • Motivational calendars offer inspiration.This can be a reminder to maintain healthy habits not only during the holidays, but also throughout the year.
  • Fill ornamental bottles and jars with healthy foods. Homemade biscotti, dried
    fruit mix or flavored mustards fit nicely into jars and can be topped with a bow.
  • Order a subscription to a health magazine.This offers monthly inspiration and practical suggestions to encourage a healthy lifestyle.
  • Design gift certificates for weekly walks or hikes. You'll get the bonus of quality time with a friend or family member and they'll get the gift of establishing a consistent activity routine.
  • Support someone's weight loss efforts with a body fat scale. Whether you've been naughty or nice this year, this is a great tool for monitoring changes in both body fat and body fitness.
  • Build a fitness basket. Partner a colorful visor and socks with a walking pedometer - it's a great combination to help set goals and stay motivated to move.
  • Women's Health and Wellness makes a great gift for moms. From the editors of Health magazine, this is an informative source for staying fit and healthy.

"With healthy gift choices that range from traditional gym memberships to homemade food baskets, there's no reason that giving the gift of health has to be boring," said Talamini. "In fact, by choosing a health-related gift, you'll be sending your loved one on the road to healthy living with a gift that keeps giving long after the holiday season."

Editor's note: For additional information on the Jenny Craig survey, please contact Cozette Phifer at (760) 696-4160 or Tracey Parsons at (412) 456-0986. For healthy exercise-related gift items, visit www.jennycraig.com.

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