The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Local News

October 19, 2012

Tarboro native helps fight childhood obesity

TARBORO — A Tarboro native is using writing as a tool to wage war on childhood obesity..

Jean Millard, a 1970 graduate of Tarboro High School, is writing her first children’s book addressing the issue of obesity.

“If parents want to have a positive impact on their children’s health, they absolutely must change their mindset when it comes to shopping and preparing food for their families,” said Millard, who now lives in Johnston County. “It costs a lot of money today to eat decent, but instead of buying the junk food, we need to learn to make healthier choices.”

Millard is writing the book “The Amazing Mis Adventures of Mike Mega with Dr. U.B. Strong or My Taste Buds Almost Killed Me and Other Confessions,” under her pen name, “Gray-Haired Granny.” (Millard started graying at an early age and when she became a grandmother, she began calling herself “Gray-Haired Granny.”)

The book chronicles 8-year-old Mike Mega’s journey from entering an essay contest “How To Be Healthy and Happy Through Better Eating” to his personal transformation resulting from following healthy living tips from Dr. U.B. Strong. It is written for children aged 8 to 12, but the message is for parents, too.

“I think when the parent sees that the child wants to make some changes, then the parent comes on board,” Millard said. The president of StoryTime Club, Inc. decided to focus her writing skills on the topic of childhood obesity after reading a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health entitled, “’F’ as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012.” The report predicts that adult obesity rates could exceed 60 percent in 13 states by 2030.

“That’s why I’m so passionate. If we’re going to reverse this trend for our youth, we must teach children and their parents simple, easy to incorporate strategies for a healthier lifestyle. These dire predictions about obesity don’t have to be their reality,” she noted.

Edgecombe County statistics pinpoint the need to address obesity, as well. According to the 2011 State of the County Health Report, 37 percent of the county’s adults are obese, compared with the statewide rate of 29 percent.

In an effort to combat childhood obesity, Edgecombe County Public Schools are offering healthy food options to students this year, in accordance with new federal nutrition standards. Whole grains, fat-free or 1 percent milk, and a variety of vegetables are some of the foods that await students in the school cafeteria.

“We can all make a difference when we work together,” Millard said. She believes her children’s book will make an impact not only in Tarboro but also on a global level, because childhood obesity is “irrespective of state, national or global borders.”

Millard is passionate about social issues; she has written and published a book on bringing

awareness to bullying: “Charlie the Dimpled Dragon.” She received the honor of 2011 Woman of the Year by the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce for her work on bullying.

Millard asks for support for her children’s book project at  HYPERLINK "", an international web-based funding platform for grassroots projects.


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