9 Catepillar 562

Anti-Obesity Campaign takes on a new shape.

On March 20, the first day of spring, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” the legendary children’s book written by Eric Carle in 1969, will be sent for free to more than 17,500 pediatricians’ offices around the country in order to promote the “Eating Healthy. Growing Strong.” campaign, a movement designed to combat childhood obesity. Created by the anti-obesity campaign, The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, the books will be sent with growth charts and reading guide handouts in order to encourage both parents and doctors to have discussions about healthy eating habits, including nutrition and portion control, with the younger generation.

“Parents and doctors both play an enormously important role in ensuring children develop healthy eating habits early on in life,” said President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation, a founding organization of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation along with the American Heart Association. “By joining with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the classic children’s brand ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar,’ we are starting a dialogue between parents and doctors that will go beyond the waiting room and into the home, enabling 21 million children to make more nutritious choices and lead healthier lives.”

The Very Hungry Caterpillar” tells the story of a ravenous caterpillar who begins his week by eating fruit and ends the week with a tummy ache after his “weekend binge eating marathon” where he consumes just about everything from salami to chocolate cake. “I’m so pleased that my caterpillar can help to promote healthy eating in the fight against childhood obesity, and I hope “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” will be a happy reminder for children to grow healthy and spread their strong wings, like the butterfly in my book,” said author Eric Carle.

“Pediatricians are working so hard these days to fight the obesity epidemic with children,” Dr. Danelle Fisher, who works in the Department of Pediatrics at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Cali., told AOL Health. “We’re constantly searching for more ways to get the important message about healthy eating across to children. And we’re always encouraging learning through reading, which should make this campaign very effective. The little insect in this story will give children something tangible to learn from. The lesson is simple: Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.”

The materials for the book are being provided by We Give Books, a digital initiative from Penguin — the publisher of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” — and by the Pearson Foundation. Sending these packages out on the first day of spring is also symbolic in the world of this beloved caterpillar: Each year on March 20, bookstores and libraries around the country celebrate the metamorphosis of this classic character by encouraging children to read about the caterpillar’s transformation into a beautiful — and healthy — butterfly.