Better Nutrition in Small Bites

Children's book inspires lifestyle changes for families at risk for obesity

Article ID: 673708

Released: 1-May-2017 7:00 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

  • Audra Rankin, instructor, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

Newswise — “Eat more fruits and vegetables, and exercise 30 minutes a day,” read the nutrition card.

If it were that easy, everyone would be fit, says Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Instructor Audra Rankin, a pediatric nurse practitioner, who admits she was often guilty of using a similar mantra that rarely sparked change within her pediatric patients and their families. That was until the idea came along to write a children’s book that would encourage families to set practical and attainable goals for their health.

Rankin co-authored Gordon Galloway’s Mealtime Makeover, a tale about a young cow who loves junk food and struggles to get enough physical activity. The book threads principles of healthy eating and exercise into the story of Gordon—whose adventures in school and on the farm lead him to make positive changes—and encourages families to come up with their own ideas for merging healthier habits into their life.

“As clinicians, we have a responsibility to translate evidence in a way that makes sense,” says Rankin. "The book does so in a non-threatening way and empowers families to take action for themselves.” It helps break down big goals into baby steps, such as cutting out one soda a week or committing to a daily walk after dinner.

Rankin has enjoyed watching children relate to Gordon but knows that there is more to the story when it comes to preventing childhood obesity. She is helping to launch a new initiative called “Lit and Fit” in a school system in Kentucky that has been targeted for its high childhood obesity rates. During the four-week program, kids and families will receive a copy of Gordon Galloway’s Mealtime Makeover. Hands-on activities such as preparing healthy foods and exercising together will make the story of Gordon Galloway come alive and offer strategies to encourage those behaviors at home.

“It’s often an issue of what families can afford, in both time and money, as to why they may choose a 99-cent hamburger over a three-dollar avocado,” says Rankin. “Meeting people where they are, and equipping them with the resources to get them where they want to be, is the ultimate goal.”

More from Johns Hopkins Nursing magazine:

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