Wednesday, June 14, 2017


“In 2015, a total of 107.7 million children and 603.7 million adults were obese.  Since 1980, the prevalence of obesity has doubled in more than 70 countries and has continuously increased in most other countries.  Although the prevalence of obesity among children has been lower than that among adults, the rate of increase in childhood obesity in many countries has been greater than the rate of increase in adult obesity.”

                        --“Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity in 195 Countries over 25 Years,” by The GBD* 2015 Obesity Collaborators, New England Journal of Medicine, June 12, 2017

The present and future health consequences of being overweight or obese as a child are too extreme to ignore.  Google the above article.  It is scary what the future holds for the children of the world, but especially American children, if we collectively fail to act.  


When I worked exclusively with older adults who had diabetes and obesity, I developed teaching strategies so they “got it” and could easily start making changes that led to improved health outcomes.  However, I kept looking over my shoulder at the rising number of children who were obese, both in the prevalence and incidence reported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in my daily observations of children in elementary and middle schools.  My work and life took a dramatic turn with the decision to start a nonprofit organization called “Growing Healthy Kids” in 2009.  It was time to transfer skills learned successfully working with, and coaching, older adults to help children and their families at risk for obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 


Since then…
  • The Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen was started to develop delicious and healthy recipes with kids and for kids. 
  • I started the "Wellness Wednesdays" series to educate adults (thank you for reading it). 
  • Writing and publishing books like Nourish and Flourish:  Kid-Tested Tips and Recipes to Prevent Diabetes to give hope to families struggling to help their kids break the cycle of diseases became a priority. 
  • Growing Healthy Kids started partnerships with organizations like Rotary Club, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Youth Guidance Mentoring and Activities Program to connect with children in an organic way so they can learn about healthy eating and physical fitness while having fun.

Reading the June 2017 New England Journal of Medicine article, “The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity in 195 Countries over 25 Years” and the article about it initially printed by USA Today was both discouraging and encouraging.  It is evidence of unhealthy trends in how and what we eat, what we feed our children, increasingly sedentary jobs and hobbies, and families’ commitment (or lack of) to take kids outdoors to experience nature.  Each one of us can make a difference in improving the health – and life – of a child. 

photo of a man and two children eating

Not sure what you can do?  Here are 5 things to do with a kid: 
  1. Plant an herb garden. 
  2. Take a walk. 
  3. Learn to swim. 
  4. Set limits on their (and your own) social media/computer time. 
  5. Thank a farmer.

If you have an idea for collaborating on a solution to childhood obesity or know of an organization we should reach out to, please contact us at  Looking forward to your ideas! 

Until we are all part of the solution to the childhood obesity epidemic, we are all part of the problem. 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

*Global Burden of Disease