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5 Companies Fighting the Childhood Obesity Epidemic

With one in six children in the U.S. now considered obese, our nation has a big problem on its hands. But thankfully, some innovative companies are developing fun and healthy ways to help kids battle the bulge. 

The first idea is from brothers Ernest Ebio and David Catanghal who love doing Crossfit workouts and wanted their kids to be able to join in the fun. So they created a company called WOD (workout of the day) Toys, which sells kid-sized barbells, medicine balls and kettle bells for instants and toddlers.

The toys are safe for little ones to slug around as they weigh between one half to four pounds each, and are made with kid-friendly materials such as plastic, polyester and leather.

Since its inception, the company has seen near instant success and is already doing $10,000 in monthly sales. ”Kids love to mimic their parents,” Ebio told CNN in a recent interview. ”My daughter can be with us [now] and have fun with these toys while mommy and daddy work out. As she grows up, we hope she associates exercising with something fun and positive and develops a love for fitness.”

Another health-conscious innovator making a difference in children’s health is Michael Ferraro who after struggling to get his own children to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, developed a line of a vegetable-growing kits for kids called Growums.

The kits have fun theme names like Taco Garden, Pizza Garden and Stir Fry Garden, and each cost around $10. Ferraro animated each vegetable and gave it a funny name like “Carin” the Carrot, and “Brok Lee” the Broccoli to ‘put some character in the garden.’ Kids can also register their kits online and download coloring sheets for even more interactive fun.

Each kit contains a tray and seeds corresponding to its theme. And to keep things simple, Ferraro designed them in such a way that all kids have to do is add water to the middle of the tray to get the garden growing.

Since starting Growums in 2010, the product has already gotten picked up by Lowes and Wal-Mart stores. But Ferraro has even bigger plans for his company, aiming to get “five million kids growing vegetables and eating healthier.”

In the face of public schools decreasing the amount of physical activity time kids get, husband and father Blake Squires, felt he had to step in and do something. So in 2010, he developed the MOVband, which is a line of brightly-colored wrist-watch style devices that go beyond pedometer capabilities to track a kids’ full range of motion and convert it into mileage.

This device encourages kids to get up and move – whether it be walking, running, jumping or dancing – and the idea seems to be catching on. To promote his product at schools, Squires developed the “MOVband Challenge,” which was a 21-day competition that encouraged kids to reach 100 miles worth of movement in three weeks. The challenge took place at 50 schools nationwide, where each has reported at least a 25% increase in activity levels among kids.

The next innovative idea comes from Jill Bloomfield, a woman who took an interest in health and cooking after being diagnosed with high cholesterol in her mid-20s. Bloomfield says the news came as no surprise as she’d grown accustomed to a diet of high-fat foods in her younger years, with favorites like grilled cheese sandwiches and pizza frequently filling her plate.

Feeling inspired to help other kids avoid this unhealthy path, and also recognizing her love for reading books – especially cookbooks – as a child, she came up with the idea of a cooking magazine for kids. And she named it Ingredient: A magazine for kids curious about food.

Ingredient is a bi-monthly food and cooking magazine for children ages six to 12, and covers a range of topics including family farms, vegan diets, and facts about fruits and vegetables.

Since 2010, Bloomfield has racked up more than 5,000 subscribers and has been overwhelmed with the positive feedback. “One parent wrote and sent pictures of her 10-year-old girl cooking one of my recipes,” she said. “It was incredible.”

And the last idea to get kids healthy is activity flash cards for toddlers – an idea from homeschooling mom, Jenny Chrisman.

Chrisman complained that it was hard to keep her kids moving and entertained throughout the day, especially during the winter months when outdoor play wasn’t an option.

So she developed a line of educational activity cards called ‘Exercards‘ that demonstrate fun physical activities that also include a built-in lesson. For instance, one card shows a cartoon dog teaching kids to exercise their calves by going up and down on their toes, while also showing them to move their arms like the hands of a clock. This, says Chrisman, gets kids exercising while learning about the hours of the day.

“As a parent, I felt it was very important for me to instill healthy food and lifestyle habits in my kids,” she said. “If we help children develop these habits early, hopefully we’ll be able to tackle the obesity epidemic in this country.”

What great products. As a 25-year-old female without any kids (yet), I want to scoop all of these inspiring products up for my future children. Just don’t tell my husband – he’ll think I’ve gone completely mad. But what creative ideas to get our kids healthy! In my opinion, it’s just what our nation needs.

Also Read:

A Look at Childhood Obesity Around the World 

Late Bedtimes Linked to Childhood Obesity 

Childhood Obesity Drop Linked to Better School Food 

May 31st, 2012

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