Wednesday, August 26, 2020

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Infant Mortality and Maternal Obesity

Babies are like bits of stardust, blown from the hand of God.

                                                                  --unknown author

Partners for Healthy Babies | Partners for Family Health

The death of an infant is not a normal event. 

Having a baby is a time of joy, love, and excitement because you are creating a new life to bring into this world.  The birth of a child is a celebratory event, a new beginning.

But some infants die before their first birthday.   

Infant mortality rate is the number of infant (aged under 1 year) deaths per 1,000 live births in a specified group. On August 21, 2020, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report called Infant Mortality by Maternal Prepregnancy Body Mass Index:  2017-2018.  According to the report’s authors*, “Generally, infant mortality increased as maternal BMI increased from the normal through obese weight categories.”  The authors summarized the study’s findings with this statement, “Nonoptimal BMI before pregnancy has implications for infant and maternal health, given the potential for adverse health outcomes for both women and infants.”  They found a direct relationship between maternal weight and infant mortality. 

This study is an important reason that with the decision to become pregnant comes the reality of how connected being at a healthy weight is to the health of the baby.  Knowing that the more overweight or obese a woman (or girl) is when she is pregnant is directly related to an increased chance that the infant may die before the age of 1 is a reality that should, ideally, be part of pre-pregnancy counseling for all reproductive age women. 

*The study authors are Danielle M. Ely, Ph.D., Elizabeth C.W. Gregory, M.P.H., and Patrick Drake, M.S. This National Center for Health Statistics report can be downloaded from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With love,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY: Summer Squash Makes the Plate

"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." 
                                                        --Michael Pollan
Summertime is all about fresh fruits and vegetables. Corn, tomatoes, watermelon, green onions, swiss chard, peaches, plums, and summer squash. I have eaten yellow and green (zucchini) summer squash all my life. Sauteed zucchini, zucchini fritters, stuffed zucchini, and zucchini bread.  

Now I spiralize zucchini. I use a simple two-sided grater. One of my favorite summer meals is to add a pile of spiralized zucchini to a pot of Italian pasta during the last minute of cooking and serve the pasta and zucchini with homemade marinara sauce and sourdough bread. 

In the past several years I have been able to buy baby squash from local farmers at the farmers markets. It is amazing!  Below is one of the newest recipes from the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen. It is a summertime winner!

This recipe was created when baby squash was readily available at the New Albany Farmers Market. While summer squash is always delicious, baby squash is one of life's culinary delicacies. This dish will complement your favorite pasta or ravioli. 

• 10-15 baby squash, thinly sliced on a diagonal (about 1-1/2 cups) 
• 1 teaspoon olive oil (or substitute 1-2 Tablespoons vegetable broth) 
• 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced 
• 2 Tablespoons julienned sun-dried tomatoes 
• 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, minced 
• Lemon zest, to taste
• Freshly ground black pepper and pink Himalayan sea salt 


Heat oil in medium saute pan over medium heat. 
Add squash. Saute for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Add garlic and sundried tomatoes and cook 2-3 minutes. 
Add parsley, lemon zest, pepper and sea salt, to taste. 
Serve immediately. 

With love, 
Nancy Heinrich, MPH 
Founder and Wellness Architect 
Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Pregnancy and Obesity

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." 

                                                                                      --Desmond Tutu

Kids at a Growing Healthy Kids workshop in Vero Beach, Florida

Recently I had the honor to speak with Kim Colvin who is studying at Frontier Nursing University to become a certified nurse midwife.  Kim contacted me because of her interest in childhood obesity in relation to her current studies to be a health care practitioner serving women who are pregnant. 

After we talked about how important it is for women who thinking about becoming pregnant to be aware of their own weight and their eating habits, I asked Kim if she would contribute to the readers of WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS as our first guest author.  Here are her words for your consideration:

Childhood obesity continues to be a major public health concern in the US. According to national data, one-third of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years were overweight (16.6%) or obese (18.5%) in 2015–2016 (LeWinn et al., 2020). Children who are overweight or obese are not only more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, but also have increased risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and psychological or behavioral consequences, such as anxiety, depression, stress, and social withdrawal (LeWinn et al., 2020). Identifying the early risk factors of childhood obesity will guide prevention efforts to reduce this burden and promote long-term health. 


Studies have shown that higher maternal fast food pattern is significantly associated with a greater risk of childhood obesity in their unborn children (LeWinn et al., 2020). These findings further highlight the important role of maternal diet during pregnancy in child growth and obesity risk. Metabolic changes caused by obesity in the mother may influence fetal programming and the development of obesity in their unborn children (LeWinn et al., 2020). 


Maintaining a healthy diet is key to your overall health during pregnancy. Learning what foods are most nutritious for you and your baby during pregnancy is the key to a healthy child. Healthy amounts of vitamins, iron, calcium, protein, fiber, unsaturated fats, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy foods, fresh nuts and grains, lean meats, poultry and fish is the key to healthier choices that can decrease the risk of obesity in children. Avoiding fast food, fried food and processed food will enhance a healthy diet and can decrease the risk of developing comorbidities as a child and as an adult. Healthy eating habits can help raise healthy children.


With love,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Basic Cooking Skills for Kids

"Cooking with kids is not just about recipes, ingredients, and cooking.  It's about harnessing imagination, empowerments, and creativity." 

                                                                                                   --Guy Fieri

There used to be a high school class called “Home Ec” or home economics.  Girls took home ec and boys took shop.  Girls learned about cooking, managing a household budget, and even how to repair household appliances.  Boys learned about power tools and how to build stuff. 

I am not sure why home ec faded away, but we need to bring it back. 

All kids need to know how to feed themselves.  BASIC. COOKING. SKILLS.  Working with Growing Healthy Kids to plan and deliver workshops for kids has taught me that most kids are not given the opportunity to learn how to cook and prepare delicious, whole foods.  So many kids exhibit desperate behaviors when we begin a series of workshops.  Some will attempt to grab foods on the prep table to shove in their mouths, most do not know how to set a table, and only a few have been taught at home how to properly and safely use a knife to chop and dice vegetables. 

Start building a kitchen tool collection for your kids and support kids to learn how to prepare delicious recipes using fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Not sure where to start?  Here are 3 kitchen tools every kid needs for cooking adventures in the kitchen:

  1. A microplane (garlic, lemons, limes, turmeric, and ginger)
  2. A lemon squeezer (lemons and limes)
  3. A peeler (for making zucchini pasta)

Eat real food. 

With love,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.