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'Be Well' Book Launches National Movement to Help Moms Instill Healthy Habits and End Childhood Obesity

NEW YORK and AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- In October 2009, two national non-profit organizations teamed together to launch a free resource for parents to help them combat childhood obesity in their homes and communities. Far exceeding expectations, the book titled, Be Well: Messages from Moms on Living Healthier Lives, has kicked off a national movement to prevent childhood obesity as half a million copies of the book have found their way into the hands of parents across the county - all on the strength of word of mouth and community networks.

When the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (a joint initiative between the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation) launched the book, Be Well: Messages from Moms on Living Healthier Lives, in October 2009, they released an aggressive first run of 375,000 copies and hoped to help moms learn some healthy habits they could pass on to their children.  

Be Well features smart tips from moms on tough topics like cutting down screen time, getting your kids to eat more vegetables and increasing physical activity. Susan Dell—healthy living advocate, co-founder of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and wife of tech legend Michael Dell—narrates the book. Be Well features the stories of 15 moms who are creatively finding ways to fight childhood obesity in their homes and communities.

"I know how inspired I was by these moms, so I'm thrilled to see the book is inspiring other people as well," said Susan Dell. "The reaction to Be Well shows us that parents are willing and able to help put their children on the healthy track. I think they're reacting positively to these moms because they prove that making small changes can create huge leaps in their children's health."

"The incredible demand for this book from parents, schools and community centers across the country reinforces our belief that parents can and will create healthier environments for their families if they are provided with information," said Ginny Ehrlich, Executive Director of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. "Armed with the expert advice in Be Well, both from Dr. William Dietz of the CDC and the moms themselves, parents can help their whole family eat better, move more and live healthier lives."

The Dell family foundation and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation recently surveyed recipients of the book, including moms, school staffers, dieticians, PTA members and leaders, and healthcare professionals – many of whom are in a position to distribute additional books to moms in their network.  The survey results confirm the impact of the book and the usefulness of the information:

  • Readers believe that the suggestions outlined in the book are helpful, with 85 percent of participants stating the nutrition tips are useful, and 67 percent stating the tips about physical activity are helpful
  • Regarding using the book's practical advice, 78 percent of readers felt sure or very sure that people who read the book can practice at least one of the tips in the book
  • Survey participants reported that 87 percent of people they had passed the book onto reacted positively, with the other 13 percent responding that they had the book themselves but had not passed it on to others yet
  • And 97 percent said they were likely to pass Be Well onto someone else

Part of the book's success has been the readers' ability to identify with the moms' stories presented in Be Well.  While 52 percent of survey recipients identified with all of the moms in the book, some of the following stories emerged as favorites:

  • Jamilia, an Oakland mom with a family history of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes that realized her children's health was her responsibility
  • Ashley, a Houston mom who runs each night with her two sons
  • Emilia, an Austin Mom who found affordable resources to help her family become more active
  • Rosa, a Chicago mom who made small changes that made a big impact on her family's health

In addition, survey participants provided insight to some of the challenges they face in implementing the book's advice in their own homes.  Eighty percent said a barrier to providing healthier choices for their children is the high cost of healthy food.  Participants also expressed challenges in making their children more active, with 69 percent citing playing video games, 56 percent citing watching TV, and 51 percent citing playing on the computer as their children's preferable activities to exercise. Decreasing screen time is one of the major levers the book suggests to prevent childhood obesity.

As the book continues to spread into community centers, schools and homes across the nation, the challenges remain clear. Children must have access to affordable, healthy food options and participate in regular physical activity to stay healthy and avoid obesity.

Be Well is available free online at, in English and Spanish versions, and through local schools and community centers around the nation. The aim of the book is to make it accessible to any parent who wants to start their children on a healthy path.

About the Alliance for a Healthier Generation

The American Heart Association and William J. Clinton Foundation joined forces in May of 2005 to create a healthier generation by addressing one of the nation's leading public health threats – childhood obesity. The goal of the Alliance is to reduce the nationwide prevalence of childhood obesity by 2015, and to empower kids nationwide to make healthy lifestyle choices. The Alliance works to positively affect the places that can make a difference to a child's health: homes, schools, restaurants, doctor's offices and communities.

About the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation ( is dedicated to improving the lives of children living in urban poverty around the world. With offices in Austin, TX, New Delhi, India, and Cape Town, South Africa, the Dell family foundation funds programs that foster high-quality public education and childhood health, and improve the economic stability of families living in poverty. The foundation has committed more than $650 million to global children's issues and community initiatives to date.  

SOURCE Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

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SOURCE Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
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