Wednesday, February 17, 2016


“Like many young doctors, I had received virtually no instruction in nutrition.  Then, as now, medical schools focused almost exclusively on drugs and surgery, even though lifestyle causes most cases of heart disease and other chronic disabling condition.  In retrospect, my lack of formal knowledge of nutrition was a blessing in disguise.”      --David Ludwig, MD, PhD, from Always Hungry?

If doctors receive no training about nutrition in medical school, 
then is it any wonder that parents receive no training?  Since parents are responsible for foods purchased for their children, how do they learn about the good foods that children need for strong bodies and healthy minds?  If advertisers have their way, the only thing parents need to buy are the foods placed intentionally at eye level in grocery stores.  With every advertising dollar spent, they are telling parents, “Don’t worry about those highly processed foods, all those food dyes, and all the added sugars, fats, and salts.  Just buy what we tell you to buy.” 

We did that and now we have a childhood obesity epidemic on our hands.  According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 17% (or 12.7 million) of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese. 

Babies are being born to obese mothers.  According to Dr. Ludwig, “excessive weight in one generation may predispose the next for higher lifetime risk of obesity, apart from genetic inheritance and the tendency of offspring to pick up their parents’ lifestyle habits.”*  We have a responsibility to America’s next generation to teach teenagers and young adults about the importance of getting to, and staying at, a healthy weight before they become pregnant. 

Here are 3 tips for parents (and parents-to-be):

1.  Read food labels:
  • Count the number of ingredients.  If there are more than 5 or 8 ingredients, choose something else. 
  • If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, they are not good for you.  
  • If food dyes are listed in the ingredients, don’t buy it. 
  • When buying breads and pastas, choose products with the word "whole" as part of the first ingredient (as in "whole grain oats") and with 4 or more grams of dietary fiber per serving (this is known as "The Nancy Rule").  
2.  Plan your meals around what vegetables are in season and locally grown, whenever possible. 

3.  Go for walks after dinner with your children.  This habit will help improve digestion, lower insulin and blood sugar levels, and promote a better night’s sleep.  

Please pass the butternut squash!

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

*Ludwig DS, Currie J.  The association between pregnancy weight gain and birthweight: a within-family comparison.  Lancet 2010; 376 (9745): 9840990; Ludwig DS, Rouse HL, Currie J.  Pregnancy weight gain and childhood body weight: a within-family comparison.  PLoS Medicine 2013; 10 (10): ed1001521.