Fighting Childhood Obesity One Turkey Hotdog Necklace at a Time

8 years ago

 This suburban mom has a lot to learn from urban moms with fewer resources who are building healthy futures for their kids.

As the mother of a Type 1 diabetic teenager, I felt like I had the whole "healthy habits" thing down. My son was diagnosed more than nine years ago, and since then I've preached the importance of good nutrition and exercise to all three of my kids.  But I've advocated those habits from the comforts of ready access to fruits and vegetables, safe places to play and a hefty grocery budget that allows me to buy organic when desired.

But many moms don't have as many options to make healthy foods and regular physical activity so readily accessible. Susan Dell - wife of tech legend Michael Dell and co-founder and chair of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation - launched a book yesterday that blows me away with creative solutions that moms with fewer resources but fabulous ideas used to instill healthy habits in their kids.

The book shares the stories of 15 urban moms who found creative solutions to ensure their kids live healthy lifestyles.  As a preview:

  • Debra in Harlem feeds upwards of 10 children on her own dime to ensure they have access to healthy food. She also finds creative serving techniques like "turkey hotdog necklaces" and "broccoli forests" to make healthy fare more appealing to little ones.
  • Ashley in Houston runs with her two young sone for at least 60 minutes each night to teach them the importance of physical activity and setting goals. Her eldest son's grades and behavior improved since starting their nightly routine.
  • Jamilia in Oakland had a family history of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. As a 26-year-old mother of four, she made great efforts to cut out fast food by involving her kids in planning the weekly menu and rides the bus 30 minutes each week to buy fresh produce at a farmer's market.
  • Andrea in Tucson recognized the need to improve her family's habits but wanted to honor her Mexican heritage and ancestors with her cooking. She adapted her culture's traditional recipes and makes them healthier without sacrificing taste. Instead of frying beans and meats, for instance, she uses a slow cooker.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I work for an agency that works with the Dell family foundation, so I had early access to the book. But I'll plug the book unabashedly because the foundation profits nothing, yet its readers have everything to gain. the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation are providing 375,000 books for free or low cost online and at community centers and schools across the nation to empower moms to take small steps with big impact. The aim is to make the book accessible to any parent who wants to start their kids on a healthy path.

So this old veteran - with my nearby organic market, exercise room and sports-minded kids - found I had a lot to learn from some simple yet hugely impactful ideas about how to keep my kids healthy. Go to http://BeWellBook.org to find out more and watch videos of these amazing moms.  And then I dare you not to shed a tear or run right into your kitchen to make a broccoli forest of your own. Bon appetit!

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