Wednesday, February 6, 2013



February is American Heart Month.  This is the month when we raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of heart disease and steps we can take (like walking every day) to prevent heart disease.

The human heart - the engine for human life.  Take care of your engine so it can take care of you.

If you have heart disease, such as high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol in your family, AND you are overweight, did you know that losing as little as 5 to 10% of your weight can have a substantial impact on lowering your blood pressure and improving your cholesterol?  It's true.  One of the primary reasons why I started the Growing Healthy Kids movement and focus on solutions to childhood obesity was because of the results I saw among adults in my wellness classes who became educated about how they could get to a healthier weight and come off insulin and blood pressure medicines. When I worked with older adults taking ten or twelve medications and a couple of months later they started coming off their medications as their weight came down, I knew we had to take bold action to educate parents. 

Children who are overweight and obese are being diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.  Children are being medicated with drugs that have never been tested on children.  Children who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes as teenagers will live about 17 years less than normal.  

We know that children who are not at healthy weights will have shorter lifespans than our lifespans - UNLESS WE BECOME EDUCATED AND COMMIT TO HALT, REVERSE, AND PREVENT CHILDHOOD child at a time. 

The best prescription we can write is one for education.  Education for parents about how to cut back the saturated fats in foods, like switching from whole milk to 2% or 1% milk.  Cutting back on trips to McDonald's for 10 piece orders of McNuggets and burgers and fries loaded with 3 days worth of sodium - and a guaranteed case of high blood pressure sooner, not later.  Education for teachers, principals and cafeteria managers, so that they will do whatever it takes - no matter what - to bring in locally grown fruits and vegetables to their school cafeterias.  Education for our business leaders so they will invest in the health of America's children through their employees' own health literacy.  

Being overweight is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease.  It ranks up at the top, just like smoking.  American Heart Month, in my opinion, should be all about America’s problem with eating the wrong kinds of foods and not exercising enough.  Too much of the wrong foods and not enough of the right foods.  Too much salt will raise your blood pressure.  Eating more calories than you need will cause you to gain weight.  Eating too much fat - mainly too much of the bad fats (saturated and trans) - leads to heart disease.

Obesity and heart disease are connected, just like heart disease and diabetes are connected.  If you have diabetes, for example, you are at 2-4 times higher risk for a heart attack or a stroke than someone without diabetes.   Heart attacks are the number one cause of death in the United States.  

Everything is connected.  “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”  (quote by John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club)

If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and/or diabetes in your family, take a few minutes to watch this clip from THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION.  It might just change your life by motivating you to start making small changes that will lead to big results.

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids

PS - Growing Healthy Kids will be hosting screenings of THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION in 2013 as part of our Wellness Wednesdays series.  If your organization would like to collaborate with us on a screening, please contact me at  I look forward to hearing from you!