Sunday, September 19, 2010

Preventing Diabetes with Local Vegetable Gardens

Paradise Greetings,

Is it any wonder we have 11 and 12 year olds children being diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea? For a long time I have been writing about the fact that obesity leads to diabetes and diabetes may in fact lead to Alzheimer's disease. I also write about the urgent need to prevent the wave of diabetes that is coming among American children if we don't figure out pronto how to change the numbers: the 1 in 3 kids who are overweight or obese.

Through the hands-on garden-based education programs of Growing Healthy Kids and its focus on solutions to the childhood obesity crisis in America, we are teaching kids and adults how to eat smarter and move more.

Look around. Children in elementary school get a half-hour of physical education a week. They are allowed to go days without eating a fresh apple, orange, or tomato. Indian River County, Florida schools just lost its Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program. What's wrong with this picture – shouldn’t fresh fruits and vegetables be the centerpiece of our school lunch program instead of an afterthought???

Look what our children are being fed. Walk into any public school where kids are eligible for the free and reduced lunch program and see for yourself. I see highly processed foods. I see hormone-infested meat, chicken, and milk kids because “it’s complete nutrition according to the USDA.” Poverty and obesity go together. School food service managers will tell you, “The kids are getting complete nutrition, we’re following all the guidelines of the USDA.” I wonder if all the good people who work for USDA eat what they make our kids eat? We need new rules! Please visit

Mark Hyman, MD, has just written a great column called “The Link between Poverty, Obesity, and Diabetes” (see Give it a read.

Everyone, including First Lady Michelle Obama, is talking these days about "improving access to healthy foods." Healthy foods will soon be available at the large garden I’m planting this week with a group of children. These kids are living proof of the connection between poverty, obesity, and diabetes. Most of them have a close family member with diabetes. I’m working to teach them the connection between access to real food and health. So they won't develop diabetes.

America could use a national day of prayer on the truth about the connection between food and health vs food and disease. They say you are what you eat. What are you eating---health or disease? Are you preventing diabetes by eating lots of fresh vegetables and whole grains? Or are you feeding an undiagnosed cancer with daily doses of Arizona Sweet Tea, McNuggests, and Coca-Cola aka sugar, fat, and salt?

It's Sunday. Time to get moving and practice what I preach. Has anyone seen my garden gloves??

To your perfect health.
Nancy Heinrich
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids