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Are you a healthy parent? Do you encourage healthy living for your child? INTRO

There is no easy answer to this question; but there are two ways to try:
1. Be a positive role model for your children.
2. Educate your child about healthy living.

So what is healthy living? While I'd really like to rattle off a nice, succinct definition, I can't come up with one. It's too complicated! In my mind there are four general ways to think about healthy living:

Food
Exercise
Sleep
Way of Life

We will explore each of these in four parts over the next week.

Before we dive in, several recent stories provide a worthy lead-in to this topic.

Ignorance is NOT Bliss. Posting calorie information works!
* Once calorie information was posted in its coffee shops, Starbucks customers began switching to lower calorie foods. The more you know, the higher probability of making a better food choice. This simple logic has propelled the idea "Eat This Not That" into a series of books!

* A recent study and a 2008 study BOTH show that fast food menus with calorie information posted led parents to order more sensible foods for their kids. Unfortunately these same parents didn't necessarily improve upon their orders. (This is the role model part! :) )

Just because you look good, do NOT assume you are "healthy"
* In an effort to reach its "at risk" students, Lincoln University in Pennsylvania attempted to require all undergrads with a BMI over 30 to take a fitness course. The program was scrapped when students pitched a fit. We applaud the University's attempt to do what parents and society are failing to do: educating children and young adults about what it means to be healthy.

However a new report out of the Mayo Clinic based on a nine-year study suggests that what matters is how much fat you have and that even those with a "normal" BMI can be at risk for future heart problems. The point being that BMI is not the best indicator of good health. Too bad the University can't fund a program for ALL students.

Corporate America realizes that getting on the health bandwagon is a sound strategy
* Whole Foods now employs "healthy eating specialists" at its flagship store. The objective is simple: healthy eating education. Hooray.

* Food manufacturers are slowly lowering the sodium content in popular foods. Sodium is one of the more recent food villains attracting the attention of the nutrition police. We recently wrote about the efforts of companies like Conagra, Unilever and Campbell Soup to lower sodium in their foods. And with cities like New York planning to launch programs to discourage sodium intake, now is the time for food manufacturers to be proactive.

* Burger King is experiencing declining sales as a result of its key "Super Fan" base opting for healthier eats, electing to cook at home and tightening budgets. Our guess is that the burger joint will slowly add healthier eats to attract new customers.

In our next post we'll explore healthy parenting with respect to food.

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