DC Influencer: Deirdre McGinley-Gieser, American Institute for Cancer Research

Deirdre McGinley-Gieser, VP of programs, American Institute for Cancer Research, knows effective cancer prevention starts early in life.

Deirdre McGinley-Gieser, VP of programs, American Institute for Cancer Research, knows effective cancer prevention starts early in life.

Why did you launch the Healthy Kids Today – Prevent Cancer Tomorrow campaign?
The American Institute for Cancer Research continually reviews and evaluates the evidence on how cancer risk is influenced by diet, weight, and physical activity.  

Some of the most compelling evidence to emerge recently revolves around the link between obesity and increased risk for seven different cancers. Today, more kids are overweight and obese than ever before.

That's why we partnered with SuperKids Nutrition, a nutrition education organization, to give kids and parents clear, friendly, engaging information, and tools that make healthy behaviors fun.

Adults tend to be the focus of cancer outreach efforts. What made you launch an effort aimed at kids?
Cancer takes years, even decades, to form. Science shows that our behaviors can influence how our genes behave throughout life. Behaviors start young; so must cancer prevention.

We estimate that we could prevent about one in three cancers in the US every year if we could get kids eating smart, moving more, and staying lean.

How did the organization perform outreach?
The campaign reaches more than 3,000 schools in 40 states, and is promoted aggressively via the group's publications, which reach more than 800,000 individuals, social media, and press.

Parents are also encouraged to take a pledge with their kids and complete a monthly series of themed activities presented on colorful, downloadable PDFs on the group's website. 

In addition, we are working with SuperKids Nutrition on a series of live demonstrations.

Has it been a success?
The campaign is still in its very early stages, but is now featured on school nutrition and health websites with which SuperKids Nutrition partners.

These pages have received more than 70 millions hits and more than 250,000 unique visitors per month. In the campaign's first two months, more than 5,000 unique visitors have downloaded the PDFs.

What's next?
Six months of content are being developed.

We will continue to promote the campaign to parents, teachers, health professionals, and others, making it more interactive with Web videos and other content to show kids that eating smart and moving more can be fun.

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