Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Dear Parents,

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.  Obesity in children has more than doubled and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years.  In 2012, more than one in three children and adolescents were overweight or obese.  Obesity has immediate and long-term effects on health AND well-being.  One immediate effect for kids is being the recipient of bullying by their peers at school, especially if they are in middle school. When kids get bullied at school, they isolate themselves at home and at school.  They stop participating in after-school activities.  They complain about stomach aches more often than kids who are not overweight or obese and have higher rates of absenteeism.  Then their grades start dropping.  Then their self-esteem is affected.  

Driving to work every day, I pass a middle school and an elementary school.  I always notice the kids who walk to school because growing up, I walked to school.  I see many kids struggling to walk, walking slower than other kids who are not overweight.  I see kids wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts because they are trying to cover up their size, even though it is 90 degrees outside and other kids are wearing shorts and T-shirts to school.  I notice that the overweight and obese kids are walking slower than the rest of their classmates.  How can you not notice a child who is twice the size of other kids?  

What bothers me about my goal of raising awareness about the solutions to childhood obesity is that kids who are overweight or obese need better role models.  Take today, for example.  I happened to be at the local hospital and I observed that most of the health care workers were overweight or obese.  Outside the hospital, I observed health care workers smoking (instead of walking) on their break.  In the hospital cafeteria, I saw lots of highly processed, prepackaged foods, iceberg lettuce on the salad bar (yuck!) and a large display of sodas right by the cash register.  If most adults are eating foods high in added sugars and think nothing of drinking 3 sodas a day, then is it any wonder we have an obesity epidemic in this country?

If childhood obesity is such a big problem, then do we really care enough to do something about it?  If the health care workers at my local hospital are any indication, then I would say no.  If the number of overweight and obese teachers is an indication, then I would say no.  

I could go on and on, but you catch my drift.  If childhood obesity is such a big problem, then WE MUST BE THE SOLUTION.  It is up to us to lead by example.  It is up to us to teach kids how to read food labels and be nutrition detectives.  But if we are drinking three sodas a day and taking our work breaks to smoke instead of take a 10 minute walk, then what are we really teaching our children about good health habits?  

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.  Drink water, not soda.   Choose fruit instead of fruit juice.  Read food labels and don't buy food containing trans fats. Take a walk.  Make one change a week.  Be a better role model.  Choose to lead by example.  Dare to care.  Be the solution.

 NEXT WEEK:  Lessons from a box of Pop Tarts

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

PS-If your kids are age 13 and younger, then look for the details about our 4th Annual Poster Contest on the September 3rd issue of Wellness Wednesdays.   We are SO EXCITED about tapping the voice of America's children!  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: The Navajo Nation, The Power to Heal Diabetes, and Growing Healthy Kids

"To provide diabetes prevention/intervention by promoting healthy lifestyle changes to reduce and prevent diabetes" 
       -- Mission Statement, Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project

Here are six questions to think about:

  1. Do you live in a food desert?  
  2. Do you eat differently (translate:  worse) than your grandparents?  
  3. Are you overweight?  
  4. Do you (or a family member) have type 2 diabetes?  
  5. Do you have limited access to fresh vegetables and fruits?  
  6. Are you concerned about a child or youth in your family who is at an unhealthy weight? 

Many of the kids and families I get the opportunity to work with answer “yes” to most or all of these questions.   Now, we have the chance to touch the lives - and health - of many more children. 

In recognition of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month this month, Growing Healthy Kids is honored to announce that we have been invited  to work with children and parents in the Navaho Nation.  Diabetes among Native American youth is an often-ignored epidemic of national significance, fueled by issues of limited access to healthy foods and increased access to foods high in sugar and processed foods.  

We know that diabetes can be controlled, reversed and prevented by embracing healthier ways of eating, most of which are defined by issues of access, and by being active.  However, if you live on a reservation where a food store selling fresh vegetables is a 200 mile drive, access to healthy foods is a barrier to improved glycemic control. 


We are so looking forward about being able to empower, inspire, and educate children and families and look forward to each project in this new partnership.  We will set benchmarks for how we will define success.  We will share our story and our journey with you and invite you to come along the journey with us. 

America’s children deserve access to healthy foods.  ALL of our children.  If they live in a food desert, we have to create "food heavens".  We can teach our children that the way our grandparents ate and lived did not lead to obesity and diabetes.  We can all learn the benefits of being at a healthy weight.  We can - and must - grow foods using new growing methods like hydoponic and aeroponic to give families access to fresh, nutrient dense foods, wherever they live.  Whether children live in Vero Beach, Florida, inner city Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or on the Navajo reservation in Tuba City, Arizona, ALL of America's children deserve access to healthy foods.  

Oops!  Never heard of Tuba City?   We will be there soon, as part of our work to improve the health - and lives - of America's children, one child at a time.  To learn more about the Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project, click here.

One of my favorite parts of WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS is bringing you resources you can use – here is one we fell in love with while doing research for our new collaboration.  We know you will love it, too!  The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is working to eliminate diabetes among Native Americans where health has been lost because diet has changed. The PCRM has created a beautiful resource full of delicious recipes and tips.  If you would like a copy of The Power to Heal Diabetes: Power Plate Resources and Recipes, please click here.    

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

PS -- If your kids are age 13 and younger, read about our 4th Annual Poster Contest in the September 3rd issue of WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS!  Deadline for having posters postmarked is October 16th!  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Poster Contest for Kids 2014

"Every child is an artist: The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."  
                                                                                           -- Pablo Picasso

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.  This is why we have chosen this month to announce our national 4th Annual Poster Contest for Growing Healthy Kids.  This year's theme is “My Favorite Family Foods”.   Our goal is to encourage kids to express their visions about healthy foods.  Parents, please use this theme to talk with your children about family food traditions, preparing favorite recipes as a family, or favorite foods to grow at home. 

Guidelines for the 4th Annual Poster Contest for Growing Healthy Kids are below:
  • ·         The poster contest is open to all children in the U.S. who are 13 years old and younger on October 16, 2014. 
  • ·         Artwork must be no larger than 8-1/2” x 11”.  All media are accepted.  Chalk, charcoal and pastel entries should be sealed with a fixative spray to prevent smearing.  Combinations of media (crayons, colored pencils, chalk, pen, torn pieces of paper, pictures from magazines, markers, etc.) are acceptable.
  • ·         Only one entry per child. 
  • ·         On back of the poster please include:
o   Parent’s name, email, phone number, and address
o   Child’s name, age, and school name 

Deadline:  Posters must be received or postmarked by October 16, 2014. 

Mail posters to: Growing Healthy Kids, 762 S. US Hwy 1, #106, Vero Beach, FL. 32962. Winners will be notified by November 16, 2014. 

Each poster is judged on originality, artistic merit, and expression of the theme.  Participants agree to allow Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. to use their names and posters for educational, promotional, and publicity purposes.  Three posters will be selected by a panel of educators and artists and will be published on the Growing Healthy Kids website and in the next Growing Healthy Kids’ book about good food and health.  When posters are published, only the child’s first initial, last name, city and state will be included.  No other information will be published or shared.  Certificates of Recognition will be sent to the three children whose posters are selected, along with a signed copy of NOURISH AND FLOURISH:  Kid-Tested and Approved Tips and Recipes to Prevent Diabetes.  All entries become property of Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.  
A mother and daughter at a Growing Healthy Kids program
held at Gifford Youth Activity Center in Vero Beach, Florida.

We have a generation of kids at risk for obesity-related diseases.  The board of directors and volunteers who are part of the Growing Healthy Kids movement feel strongly about unleashing the power of the youth voice to improve the health – and lives – of America’s children and their families to reverse, prevent and halt childhood obesity and obesity-related diseases.  We can learn from our children.  They can learn from us.  Kids are very observant about their world.  There are teachable moments all around us.  
Studies have shown that having dinner together as a family is one of the most important ways you can teach your children how to stay at a healthy weight.  Planning meals together, shopping together, cooking together, taking care of a kitchen herb garden, and enjoying food together as a family…these tasks are about so much more than food! So enjoy talking about this year’s theme and start creating some family food traditions of your own.  Most of all, have fun!
In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.