Chris Marchioni is both a physician and a mother. She’s also the executive director at Healthy Learning Paths where she helps children learn how to live healthy lifestyles using a science-based approach. Chris is also a new PreventObesity.net Leader. Connect with her here.
Name: Chris Marchioni, MD
Title: Executive Director
Organization: Healthy Learning Paths
1. What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?
As a physician and a mother, it is unforgivable to allow any child to become ill with a disease that is preventable. We have no excuse to make our children sick. It is both irresponsible and inhumane as a society, as a government, as health professionals, and as parents. It baffles me how we have become so disconnected from children as a society. Our culture has been manipulated to engage in a blame game rather than in impactful solutions. Medical science has evidence-based research to prevent childhood obesity. As a medical professional and a member of the human race who cares about children, it is the right thing to do to dedicate expertise, time and resources to prevent obesity in children before we lose even one more child to disease.
2. How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?
At Healthy Learning Paths, we empower children with wellness strategies for success in health, learning and life. We take best practices in medical science and child development out of the doctor’s office and bring them to children and families in schools using an evidence-based, hands-on science approach--that’s also fun! We teach kids and families the health and science that keeps them healthy and happy.
3. What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?
We have created the Be Well, Learn Well curriculum that can be used nationwide in classrooms to empower kids with knowledge and skills to choose healthy behaviors. More than 80 percent of parents who have children in our programs agree that it has changed behaviors in nutrition, activity, sleep, and even screen time.
4. Who is your role model in your work?
There are many. A huge role model is Joseph Mazzola who is one of the first individuals in have heart bypass surgery in his early 40’s. At that time, he was told his life would be significantly shortened. He changed. He changed what he ate, started regular exercise, and made a promise to his wife and kids that he would do all in his power to turn his disease around. And he did.
He not only turned his disease around, but he understood how important it was to get this message out to every parent and child. He is an amazing role model and inspiration.
My parents are also my role models. Although we were extremely poor, they emphasized health and education. Health meant taking care of yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually. My father taught us just because we were poor did not mean that we did not have choices. He taught us to make health choices in what we ate, in regular activity, and in being particular about what we did with our bodies. He was way ahead of his time. Ironically, at the time I grew up, if you were poor, there was no way you could afford to eat at fast food places. It was cheaper and healthier to eat at home. This is still true today, however, the media has many convinced otherwise.
5. What healthy snacks did you enjoy growing up?
We raised much of our own food growing up, so snacks were fruits and vegetables. We drank water and milk. It was that simple and it was oh so delicious!
Each week, our own Zach Brooks speaks with a Leader to get a quick look at why he or she loves working to create healthy environments for kids. Want to take part? Visit Zach’s profile and contact him.