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.
Clinical Psychologist Dr. J. Renae Norton has worked for more than 25 years to help create healthy environments for kids. The published author hosts a podcast to spread the word about healthy foods, and works with patients and others to spread the word about childhood obesity.
What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?
For the past 25 years I have worked with hundreds of individuals struggling with eating disorders, body image and self-esteem issues. I became interested in childhood obesity when I witnessed an alarming increase in the number of children that are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes as a complication of obesity, and children as young as 5 years old who are worried about their weight. In addition, the research that I am doing for a new book has shown me that U.S. children, who have the distinction of being the most obese children in the world, are targeted by the food industry for food additives that have been shown to be obesogenic, addictive and neurotoxic. I am on a mission to stop these practices.
How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?
I am helping to reverse childhood obesity by researching and publishing books to create more awareness of the causes of childhood obesity. I am also making a concerted effort to help parents become aware of the solutions. I have published two children’s books that help parents inspire their children to eat clean and become more physically active. There is very little profit in the publication of children’s books, and I give away more books than I sell, in order to get the word out. I also host a podcast in which I interview leading professionals in the real food community that provides information to thousands of concerned individuals.
What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?
My biggest accomplishment so far is the development of the Food Pollution/Addiction Model for treatment and the near completion of a book titled, Food Pollution: Why Obesity, Eating Disorders & Mortality Rates Are Rising in the U.S. And What You Can Do About It.
This model has a strong focus on the importance of food quality in the treatment of both eating disorders and obesity. My outcomes are significantly better than what is currently being reported in the literature, especially when it comes to helping parents with children who have food addictions and/or disturbed eating patterns.
Who is your role model in your work?
My role models include Dr. Bruce Fife, Zoe Harcombe, Jeffrey Smith, Sean Croxton, Dr. Daniel Kalish, Dr. Marcella Pick, researcher Åshild Krogdahl, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Richard Blaylock, Dr. Vera Tarman, and Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation. These are people who are world-changers in the field of health, nutrition and the healing properties of food. Their work has been inspirational and has informed much of my writing and research.
What healthy snacks did you enjoy growing up?
My mother, who grew up on a dairy farm in northern Wisconsin, taught me how delicious real food can be, even on a limited income, as we were not particularly affluent. Our house was nonetheless the favorite place for overnights among my friends. My mother’s banana pancakes were legendary! Instead of going to a popular local fast restaurant] as most of my friends did, my mother made homemade versions of that food.
Because we could not afford ice cream, my mother took milk from a local farm and skimmed the cream off the top. She mixed in some chopped up fresh fruit sweetened with honey and froze it. It was such an awesome treat!
This is exactly what I teach my patients to do today: Create your favorite fast food from real food ingredients that nourish the soul as well as the body!