Healthy Habits for Life

Healthy Habits for Life

Healthy Habits for Life is a series of segments and storylines in children's television series "Sesame Street". Launched in season 36, the segments are a "multi-year, content-driven initiative to help young children and their caregivers establish an early foundation of healthy habits that can last a lifetime".


In the early part of the 2000s, childhood obesity became a critical issue in the public mind, and was reinforced as a cause for concern by data published by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Sesame Workshop, as a developer of many kids programs, took interest in promoting healthy lifestyles to its viewers. According to people from Sesame Workshop, "Health has always been a part of our Sesame Street curriculum, therefore we will always be committed to ensuring kids are given information and messages that will help them become healthy and happy in their development. For season 36, we have turned up the dial in health, but it will always be part of our curriculum."

The Healthy Habits for Life programming was launched In 2005, to encourage young viewers to lead more active and nutritious lifestyles.

The Workshop formed an Advisory Board consisting of experts such as Woodie Kessel, M.D., M.P.H., the Assistant Surgeon General of the United States. This board examines the research of other organizations, and also conducts pilot studies to determine which areas of research should be expanded, based on social, ethnic and socio-economic sections of the population."


Throughout season 36, every other episode of "Sesame Street" had a health related theme to its Street-scene, and various segments.

At the start of every show, before the sponsorship list and opening sequence ran, a "Healthy Moment" segment aired. Generally, these included celebrity guests like astronaut Buzz Aldrin, game show champion Ken Jennings, or singer Alicia Keys.

Veggie Monster scare

As part of the Healthy Habits programming, Sesame Workshop began "broadening Cookie Monster's eating habits". [ [ BBC: Cookie Monster curbs cookie habit] ] In actuality, the company had begun broadening his intake as early as 1990 with the song "Healthy Food", by Christopher Cerf. The song was remade for 2006 with rapper Wyclef Jean as a guest star. A 1999 "Sesame Street Beat Newsletter" for parents discussed his balanced lifestyle:

: "Lately, Cookie has also taught children the importance of eating a balanced diet. This doesn't mean that Cookie rounds out his diet with plates, trucks, ukuleles, and other objects the munching monster has been known to devour. This means that Cookie now eats a fair share of salads, meats, and vegetables to set a good example for viewers at home. And Cookie doesn't mind a bit. Sure he loves cookies, but he likes the act of eating in general. As long as his mouth is full, his heart is happy." [ [ "Sesame Street Beat Newsletter": C Is for Cookie, That's Good Enough for Me] , November 2, 1999]

The international media picked up on the story, but instead a high percentage twisted it into sensationalism, with headlines like "'Sesame Street' tosses its cookies" [WorldNetDaily: [ 'Sesame Street' tosses its cookies] , April 11, 2005.] or claiming the character was "sent on a diet". Widespread internet rumor was launched that PBS forced Sesame Workshop to literally rename Cookie Monster as "Veggie Monster". An Internet petition/boycott received hundreds of signatures of support, from misinformed web users.


Characters Elmo and Rosita filmed public service announcements with various U.S. state governors in 2006. Participating were Governors Mike Huckabee (R-AR), Frank Murkowski (R-AK), Felix Camacho (R-GU), Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID), Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS), Kathleen Blanco (D-LA), Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), Kenny Guinn (R-NV), John Hoeven (R-ND), Aníbal Acevedo Vilá (PPD-PR), Bob Taft (R-OH), Don Carcieri (R-RI) with his wife, Sue Carcieri, Jon Huntsman (R-UT), Jim Douglas (R-VT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). [ [ United States Governors Join Sesame Street's Elmo and Rosita to Encourage Healthy Habits in Children] , April 24, 2006.]

Education and Research Advisory Board

* Leann Birch, Ph.D., Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, Penn State University
* Dominique Dawes, three-time Olympian, Olympic Gold Medalist
* Neil Izenberg, M.D., Chief Executive of Nemours Center for Children's Health Media; Pediatrician at the Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children; Professor of Pediatrics at Jefferson Medical School
* Woodie Kessel, M.D., M.P.H., Assistant Surgeon General, HHS; Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
* Ronald E. Kleinman, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics Harvard Medical School, Chief of the Pediatrics, Gastroenterology and Nutrition Unit at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Associate Chief of MassGeneral Hospital for Children
* Mary Frances Picciano, Ph.D., Senior Nutrition Research Scientist, Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health
* Michelle Pierce, Principal, Founder of Harriet Tubman Charter School
* Steve Sanders, Ph.D., Chair, Dept of Health and Physical Education at Tennessee Technological University
* Ileana Vargas, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of New York Presbyterian at Columbia University Medical Center

Related projects

On 1 February 2004, Sony Wonder released the VHS/DVD "Happy Healthy Monsters".

A series of books from Random House, called "Happy Healthy Monsters" were released. They were "Squeaky Clean (All About Hygiene)", with Elmo, Ernie, and Bert; "Get Moving with Grover" with Elmo and Grover; and "Elmo's Breakfast Bingo" with Elmo.

Del Monte canned vegetables featured the characters, as well as Sunkist strawberries and blueberries. Hannaford Supermarkets ran an "Apple of the Month" promotion, featuring the characters on various varieties' stickers, with activity sheets describing the unique traits of each fruit. [ [ MediaPost Publications - Hannaford, Sesame Street Join In Fruit Promo - 01/16/2007 ] ]


External links

* [ Sesame Workshop: Healthy Habits for Life]
* [ Muppet Wiki: Healthy Habits for Life]

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