Why Peppy Up?

Patricia NelliganPatty has worked with a group of volunteers with the Northern Illinois Diabetes Coalition for over eight years. See northernidc.org Currently, health care focusses on obese children to try to help them be healthier and reduce risk of diabetes and other chronic diseases. Children and adults that are obese are sometimes bullied. The Northern Illinois Diabetes Coalition received feedback from families, teachers, and health care providers that creating positive messages for all children and their families to be healthier may be a better approach for children. In addition, genetic predisposition to illness is a very important factor in determining which children will later experience a chronic illness such as Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, or Cancer. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes varies remarkably between ethnic groups living in the same environment. Type 2 diabetes is two to six times more prevalent in African Americans, Native Americans, Pima Indians, and Hispanic Americans living in the United States. Exposing all children to the Best food and teaching children to exercise may significantly reduce their risk of developing a chronic illness later in their life. Currently, statistics show one in three children will have diabetes by 2050. This epidemic will have horrible social and financial effect on the health care system. Our children today may not have the best health care treatments available because of the financial burden of this epidemic on the health care system.peppy 2

Children will in most cases establish eating and exercise habits from their family. Current adults have in most cases established what they eat and their exercise patterns from their family. It is never too late to change existing habits. Schools and Health Care Providers can educate children but motivation to make health changes come from families and communities. Health care Providers already have seen the epidemic of Diabetes grow in the last five years. They want to help families be healthier and prevent illness. Families should work together to know their risk for chronic illness and try to improve what they eat.

Junk food does taste good, it can be less expensive, and it is addictive. Not all children always have access to the best food on the list and eating good food on the list may be a better goal. Most children and adults would prefer to eat more foods on the Peppy Down vs. Peppy Up list and some of our favorite foods can be cooked healthier or eaten in smaller portions. Changing to healthier food is best to do by making slow changes and sticking to a change for 30 days. It takes thirty days to change a habit. Start by having your children help make a better breakfast, teach children how to pack a healthy lunch, and cook a healthier dinner vs. always eating out. When you do go out as a family, eat smaller portions. Go for a walk or do a fun activity vs. watching TV or playing videos. Children that exercise are less likely to be obese as adults. It is never too late to start changing habits and it can prevent chronic illness in your family. Children also are influenced by their peers. Work together with other families to achieve a health or fitness goal.

Peppy Up has been piloted in a few programs and parents, children, and teachers are inspired by Peppy and the positive message Eat Your Best and Be Your Best. Work together to help each other Peppy Up so we can feel better, and prevent illness if possible in our family and community. Please send comments or suggestions on the Peppy program to Peppy on Facebook. We hope your children and your family likes the story and it helps to motivate you to Eat Your Best and Be Your Best.