Health E-Insights: Will we ever get people to eat healthy?
Dr. Childs: Many folks are eating healthier and many aren’t. It’s a complicated issue with tight economics and food access critical for many. We’re living in a paradox of hunger and obesity. There’s definitely increased awareness to eat healthy but behavioral follow-through is limited. Unfortunately, even as many eat healthier foods they’re still eating too much, consuming too many calories. And a careful stable calorie intake while we age, confronted with a slowing metabolism and slightly decreased activity, ultimately defeats even this most noble endeavor. Our culture struggles with being satisfied with less.
Health E-Insights: I assume you’ve met with Michelle Obama? Tell us about your experience working with the White House on the need to eat fresh and locally grown food.
Dr. Childs: I worked with Michelle’s staff attempting to identify simpler and compelling messages to encourage folks to eat healthier. Simple messages that are easy to remember and rely on, such as make half your plate fruits and vegetables. The First Lady is an amazing role model for young families and mothers. She’s launched a multi-faceted approach to mitigate childhood obesity. Let’s Move! has captured attention, she’s provoked a long overdue rewrite of school lunch nutrition standards, partnered with the private sector, including Wal-Mart, to encourage meaningful reformulation of sugar, salt and fat levels in every day products. She promotes backyard gardens, fresh fruits and vegetables, and food stores in the inner city. She’s launched a full assault on childhood obesity. What’s impressed me the most is her willingness to engage the private sector for solutions. And her flat out full enthusiasm in promoting this cause, kneeling in garden dirt, cooking with kids, running on the track with teens, shopping at a local farmer’s market. She puts herself out there actively engaged in this cause.
Health E-Insights: What are you doing in our home state of Pennsylvania to educate people about healthy food choices?
Dr. Childs: What I’m seeing in Pennsylvania is more local grassroots programs, whether the scope is educational or access. The most recognized inner city progress to conquer food deserts in the U.S. is right here in Philadelphia with Jeff Brown’s urban grocery stores. The number of farmer markets, active CSA’s (community supported agriculture), increased student enrollments in food and culinary programs, and the growing number of small farms in Pennsylvania all illustrate a new national passion for an American food culture which is active right here in Pennsylvania.
Health E-Insights: When it comes to food, is there a golden rule which you live by?
Dr. Childs: Color and tasty. Food is to enjoy, a meal is to be shared. The brighter the colors generally the higher the nutrient and antioxidants, whether you consider strawberries, sweet potatoes, oranges, tomatoes or deep green leaves they’re an easy bet for good nutrition.
Health E-Insights: What does your diet consist of?
Dr. Childs: A little bit of everything—and a big thank you to the researchers identifying that dark chocolate, a glass of wine, and a handful of nuts are a healthy treat.
Health E-Insights: Have any of your students gone on to fame and fortune?
Dr. Childs: This is like asking to pick a favorite child. Past students have gone off in many directions with many careers, many in food. The ones that give me the biggest smile are those on the front lines managing the local ShopRite or Whole Foods or organic farmer market, operating an important resource in their community, customizing their store format to meet community needs, providing local employment, helping their shoppers find the healthier alternatives, and remembering that food is a celebration.
Sheldon Baker wants to interview you. Contact Sheldon at SBaker@BakerDillon.com. Follow him on Twitter @NutraInk and visit his website at www.BakerDIllon.com.