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An Organic Apple A Day

 
Deirdre Imus Encourages Teens to Think Green and Healthy  

Hackensack, NJ, October 27, 2006 – Focusing on the health aspects of “green” choices, Deirdre Imus encouraged teens to put “green” into action by starting with one thing, such as an organic apple or non-toxic cleaning products at home. The comments came October 19 in an address to 150 seniors, faculty and administrators at Trumbull High School in Connecticut, not far from Ms. Imus’ hometown in Waterbury.

Ms. Imus is President and founder of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology® at Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC), a 501(c)3 not-for- profit corporation in Hackensack, N.J.

The Environmental Center represents one of the first hospital-based programs whose specific mission is to identify, control and ultimately prevent exposures to environmental factors that may cause adult, and especially pediatric cancer, as well as other health problems with our children.

School Superintendent Ralph Iassogna said the district was already taking the initiative on greening, beginning with healthier choices in the school cafeteria and the Environmental Center’s award-winning Greening the Cleaning® program. Greening the Cleaning® means eliminating to the greatest extent possible, all cleaning agents containing hazardous ingredients and replacing them with naturally-derived ingredients with the least level of toxicity.

Ms. Imus applauded high schools, in general, that are replacing traditional snack and soft drink vending machines with those that dispense fruit and fruit juices.

One simple change can have far-reaching consequences, Ms. Imus said. “An apple is one of the most heavily sprayed fruits. So when you choose organic, you make a difference in your health. And when you choose an organic apple, you are removing all those toxic pesticides from the environment -- pesticides that would normally go into our waterways and into fish and end up in the food chain.”

Now a vegan who eats mostly organic whole foods, fruits and vegetables, Ms. Imus recounted her own journey to a healthier lifestyle that began with a vegetarian diet and extended it into a concern for the environment and children’s health. Working with her radio-talk-show host husband, Deirdre said her husband had raised over $100 million, some of which was used to build The DON IMUS-WFAN Pediatric Center for Tomorrows Children which houses all of the medical center’s pediatric outpatient programs.

In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables grown without toxic pesticides, other whole food suggestions included: unbleached whole-grain breads (because bleaching strips out nutrients), soy or organic dairy milk to avoid growth hormones injected into dairy cows; and grass-fed beef rather than beef from cattle fed with genetically-modified grain.

When asked about healthier menus at fast food restaurants, Ms. Imus pointed to the childhood obesity statistics and said that the chains still have a long way to go: “Salads are still washed with water containing chlorine, and the vegetables in the salad are grown with pesticides. Iceberg lettuce has almost no nutritional value, and sometimes the salad dressings are full of as much if not more saturated fat as in the burgers.” About one in seven U.S. children over the age of six is obese according to the National Institutes of Health.

But as important are all the “sugar muscle” kids, as Ms. Imus calls them – the kids that are really skinny because they don’t have a proper diet and aren’t getting the proper nutrition. “The pendulum swings both ways – obese and unhealthy, and skinny and unhealthy,” she said.

The Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer

Ms. Imus is also co-founder and co-director, with husband Don Imus, of The Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer, a 4,000 acre working cattle ranch in northern New Mexico which provides the experience of the American cowboy to children suffering from cancer and various blood diseases, and to children who have lost a brother or sister to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). More than 700 children have experienced the program since the ranch was founded in 1998.

Deirdre Imus and her husband work with children at the ranch all summer, “treating sick kids just like any kid – because they are, but they need to be treated that way, too,” she said. “Children whether they’re sick or not need to know how they can be useful and purposeful.” Children feed the animals before breakfast, learn to ride a horse and herd cattle. They not only gain a renewed sense of self-esteem, but a fresh approach to food, she said. The ranch is completely vegetarian and totally organic.

Another simple change teens can make is to help rid their homes of cleaning agents containing toxic ingredients. Ms. Imus said many people have as many as 30 different cleaning products under the kitchen sink. “This is totally unnecessary when there are non-toxic alternatives, and only five or six products are needed to clean the whole house.”

In 2001, The Environmental Center instituted a hospital-wide Greening the Cleaning® initiative at HUMC. As a result of the program, HUMC created an indoor environment believed safer for patients, staff and visitors. It eliminated and reduced burns and respiratory problems associated with cleaning chemicals, and yielded a 15 percent savings for the hospital.

For their efforts, the Environmental Center and HUMC were awarded The Phillip M. Scanlan Environmental Award from Quality New Jersey (QNJ), and recognized in 2001 by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) with the Environmental Award for Excellence.

Based on the success of the institutional program, a household line of Greening the Cleaning® products was launched this year, with products comparable in cost and efficacy to national brands, Ms. Imus said. “The difference is that when you buy our products, it goes to a good cause.”

For the institutional line of Greening the Cleaning® products, 100% of all profits from sales go to educational programs and research to identify, control and ultimately prevent exposures to environmental factors that may cause adult, and especially pediatric cancer, as well as other health problems with our children. For the retail line, 100% of all after tax profits from sales go to The Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer.

 


The State of Children’s Health Needs a Turnaround

Environmental health advocate Deirdre Imus says the current state of children’s health is what motivates her to educate teens and the public at large about the importance of making simple changes in diet, lifestyle and “green” purchasing decisions. “Start with one simple change,” she says. Among the statistics cited by The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology® at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, N.J:


Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children.
(Source: American Cancer Society)

One in every 166 children in this country is diagnosed with autism.
(Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, CDC)

One of every six kids will be diagnosed with a learning disability. (Source: American Council on Science and Health)

An appalling diet has contributed to an epidemic in childhood obesity, impacting about one in seven children over the age of six. (Sources: National Institutes of Health, Institute of Medicine)

About one in 400 to 500 children in the U.S. have type 1 diabetes. And type II diabetes, once associated only with adults, is now on the rise among children. (Source: CDC)

Respiratory problems such as asthma are the leading cause of absenteeism in schools. (Source: American College of Emergency Physicians).

The rate of premature births increased 21 percent between 1981 and 2001. (Source: March of Dimes)

The third most common chronic disease in childhood is rheumatoid arthritis. (Source: Dr. Yukiko Kimura, Hackensack University Medical Center)
 

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