Wednesday, March 13, 2013



"The childhood obesity epidemic is an urgent public health problem. The most recent data available show that nearly 19 percent of boys and about 15 percent of girls aged 2-19 are obese, and almost a third of U.S. children and adolescents are overweight or obese (Ogden et al., 2012).

The obesity epidemic will continue to take a substantial toll on the health of Americans.In the midst of this epidemic, children are exposed to an enormous amount of commercial advertising and marketing for food. In 2009, children aged 2-11 saw an average of more than 10 television food ads per day (Powell et al., 2011). Children see and hear advertising and marketing messages for food through many other channels as well, including radio, movies, billboards, and print media. Most notably, many new digital media venues and vehicles for food marketing have emerged in recent years, including Internet-based advergames, couponing on cell phones, and marketing on social networks, and much of this advertising is invisible to parents.

The marketing of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and beverages is linked to overweight and obesity. A major 2006 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) documents evidence that television advertising influences the food and beverage preferences, requests, and short-term
consumption of children aged 2-11 (IOM, 2006). The report also documents a body of evidence showing an association of television advertising with the adiposity of children and adolescents aged 2-18. The report notes the prevailing pattern that food and beverage products marketed to children and youth are often high in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium; are of low nutritional value; and tend to be from food groups Americans are already overconsuming. Furthermore, marketing messages that promote nutrition, healthful foods, or physical activity are scarce (IOM, 2006)."

The preceding 3 paragraphs are from the introduction in a new National Academies Press report:  Challenges and Opportunities for Change in Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Workshop Summary.

One of our Chefs cooking at a recent Growing Healthy Kids in the Kitchen program. 

Nancy with one of the kids attending a Growing Healthy Kids in the Kitchen program  in Vero Beach. 

Raising awareness about the problem of – and solutions to – the childhood obesity epidemic is fundamental to the mission of Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.  When two in three adults are overweight or obese, it is up to us as parents to set a better example today and in the future for children.  I want to share two events happening this week in Vero Beach, Florida that set good examples – for adults AND kids.

Tonight, Dave the Raw Food Trucker will be in Vero Beach to share his story at The Cloudwalker Place (between the Kmart and Goodwill stores on US 1 at 14th Street).  A truck driver who used to be 430 pounds, was on 19 medications, and had several conditions including diabetes, this guy changed what he was eating and lost the weight – and the diabetes including, acid reflux disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease.  He is on a national tour to raise awareness about healthy eating – my kind of guy! 

Tomorrow evening, Growing Healthy Kids will be holding its 
monthly education program, GROWING WELLNESS 
CHAMPIONS, for 2nd and 3rd grade students at Vero Beach Elementary School and their parents. At each month’s event, we prepare a delicious dinner using locally grown foods and share recipes and resources to help parents and kids eat great foods.  Tomorrow we are featuring locally grown tomatoes, green peppers and onions, complements of Osceola Organic Farm and making Pizza – Designed by kids for kids.  The focus of the pizza is using a crust high in dietary fiber so everyone gets filled up.  We have made these pizzas for hundreds of kids and they all love making and eating it.  If you live in the area and would like to attend, please email me at for event details.  In case you live in Idaho or Ohio, here is the recipe for what the kids and I will be making tomorrow for dinner (with veggies courtesy of Osceola Organic Farm):

Pizza…Designed by Kids for Kids

  • 6 English muffins*
  • 1 jar pizza sauce or 1 large can tomato paste
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 large can sliced black olives
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pesto (optional)

  • Split muffins in half.
  • Place muffins on baking tray.
  • Spread pizza sauce (or tomato paste, with a little water and dried basil added) on muffins.
  • Add toppings of your choice.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until done. 
  • Serve with a chopped green salad or fresh fruit salad. 
  • Serves 6.  Enjoy!

*For demonstration purposes, Thomas Light Multi-Grain muffins containing 8 grams of dietary fiber per muffin were used in the preparation of this recipe.

NOTES FROM NANCY:  Choose muffins, breads, and tortillas with five (5) or more grams of dietary fiber per serving.  WHY?  Fiber is the GOOD carbohydrate and fills us up so we don’t overeat. 

Remember, plan family dinners this week and every week.  Let your kids help in the kitchen.  Now, off to the farm for some tomatoes and peppers!

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.