The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Healthy Eating Habits

Healthy Eating habits taught by The Very Hungry Caterpillar

(NEW YORK) March 8, 2011 – The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have joined with the best-selling children’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and with We Give Books to help families learn about healthy eating habits at home. The Eating Healthy. Growing Strong. campaign is an important part of the Alliance’s mission to combat childhood obesity.

This spring, more than 17,500 pediatrician offices across the United States will receive free copies of specially created The Very Hungry Caterpillar books, together with growth charts and parent handouts that encourage doctors and parents to have meaningful conversations about the importance of healthy eating.

“Parents and doctors both play an enormously important role in ensuring children develop healthy eating habits early on in life. By joining with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the classic children’s brand The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we are starting a dialogue between parents and doctors that will go beyond the waiting room and into the home, enabling 21 million children to make more nutritious choices and lead healthier lives,” said President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation, a founding organization of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation along with the American Heart Association.

In addition to beginning the conversation on healthy eating between pediatricians and parents, the campaign also showcases ways to integrate discussions of healthy active living into family reading time. Tips for parents to discuss healthy active living using The Very Hungry Caterpillar include:

  • Teach your child that apples, pears, plums, strawberries, and oranges are all fruits. Ask them if they can name other fruits.
  • Talk to them about how fruits are good for your body.
  • Talk about how when the caterpillar overeats, he gets a stomachache— so it is important to stop eating when you feel full.

“Parents should read with their children every day, starting when they are babies,” said O. Marion Burton, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “This campaign provides a wonderful opportunity to teach children about healthy eating habits at a very young age, while fostering a love of books and language.”

The materials are being provided to the campaign by We Give Books, a digital initiative from Penguin—the publisher of The Very Hungry Caterpillar—and by the Pearson Foundation. Visitors to We Give Books will have the chance to read a library of great children’s books for free, any time they like, and each time they read a book at, the Pearson Foundation will donate a brand-new book to a leading literacy group.

“I am delighted that the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Pearson Foundation have selected The Very Hungry Caterpillar as a spokescharacter for their important work,” said author and illustrator Eric Carle.  “I’m so pleased that my caterpillar can help to promote healthy eating in the fight against childhood obesity, and I hope The Very Hungry Caterpillar will be a happy reminder for children to grow healthy and spread their strong wings, like the butterfly in my book.”

Don Weisberg, president, Penguin Young Readers Group, said, “We are honored to be part of this important campaign to help educate young children and their families about healthy eating using one of the most beloved and recognized children’s book characters of all time, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

Mark Nieker, president of the Pearson Foundation added, “We Give Books is ready to share news of this important initiative with young people and parents across the country. Parents can talk about the importance of healthy eating—and help their kids develop important literacy skills—at the same time.”

For additional campaign information, click here.

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