So, What Exactly IS The Gumbo Gang?
The Gumbo Gang on Boogie Bayou (and gumbogang.com) was created to address the childhood obesity and diabetes epidemic. A trans-media platform for four to seven year old children and their families, The Gumbo Gang on Boogie Bayou utilizes animation, video, games, family activities and even classroom materials to highlight the positive outcomes of diet and exercise on health. Each episode and every activity is focused on increasing physical activity and modeling good nutrition choices — all set to a musical gumbo of Zydeco, Rhythm & Blues, Jazz, even a little bit of good ole Rock & Roll. Let’s GET UP AND GEAUX!
GumboGang.com : Our Mission Explained
The fastest-growing health crisis in the world is childhood obesity, and it’s growing at an alarming rate. Since the 1970’s, it’s increased by 300%, cutting across all borders and all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. The consequences are equally alarming: sharp increases and earlier incidences of asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, not to mention social stigma and low self-esteem. The problem is most serious in Louisiana, ranked 50th among all states in the 2009 America’s Health Ratings, as it has been nearly every year since the survey began in 1990.
Even children as young as three have a one in four risk of becoming obese. But here’s the silver lining in this hailstorm of bad news. With preschoolers, there’s still a chance to intervene before the lifestyle factors that put them at risk for obesity become ingrained habits.
A critical culprit in obesity is sedentary behavior. Kids today are simply not getting the physical activity they need to lead long, healthy lives. Young children need 60 minutes of structured physical activity and 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity each day (no more than 30 minutes at a time). The benefits of this physical activity are not only physical and emotional, but also academic. A recent Harvard study showed a direct link between physical fitness and doing better in school. Yet, the average preschooler gets far less than the recommended 120 minutes of physical activity per day.
TV and electronic media are part of the problem. Several studies have found a correlation between the time spent viewing television and increased prevalence of obesity in children. Sedentary habits start young. Even children as young as four to six are engaging in two hours of media usage each day (TV, video, computer). This means they’re not doing what kids are naturally born to do — going outside, playing, swinging, and running around.
Kids’ networks have made a valiant effort to address the growing crisis with content promoting healthy eating, exercise, even musical interstitials encouraging kids to get up and dance for a minute or two. Networks have even gone dark periodically in an effort to get kids to turn off the TV and go outside and play. It’s a good start, yet the obesity epidemic continues to accelerate. Clearly, even more needs to be done.
So the question becomes — can TV do more than promote healthy behavior to viewers who are engaging in unhealthy behavior by watching in the first place? Can TV intervene and prevent future obesity? Can it change kids’ behavior while viewing to set up a lifetime habit of physical activity? Is it actually possible for TV to deliver a measurable positive health benefit to kids who watch it?
The answer is…. Yes! And the solution comes from the very place where the problem is most critical: Louisiana, home base to The Gumbo Gang™, gumbogang.com, as well as its creators, Joanna and John Darling Haynes. In the same way Louisiana has repeatedly weathered other threats to its survival, its spirit and endurance serve to inspire and guide us through this latest crisis.