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Hey kids! The healthologist says: off the couch and into the gym!

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Eric Meredith makes an appearance on a local TV show

Eric Meredith makes an appearance on a local TV show, giving cooking tips and advice. “America’s struggling with obesity. I understand people. I don’t talk down,” he says.


Eric Paul Meredith wants to help kids eat more healthy foods and get more exercise.

To do that, he wants them to watch television.

An entrepreneur, chef and graduate student in nutrition, Meredith knows the country has an obesity problem that affects more children than ever before.

He also knows that the average American kid can spend upwards of seven sedentary hours a day at a TV set, computer screen or video game.

“Chef Eric Paul,” as he’s sometimes known, wants to preach his good-eating message on a TV show starring him as “The Healthologist.”

“It’s a universal word,” he says. “It encompasses nutrition, fitness, the environment.”

The show would be a Sesame Street-style program — “a hipper version,” he says — that gets kids thinking about what’s good to eat and recognize the hype in junk food commercials.

He hopes to win seed funding for the show from Pepsi Cola’s “Refresh Project,” which awards cash prizes to public-spirited projects winning the most online votes.

Meredith produced a short YouTube video for his entry that you can view, then vote for his idea.

Since earning a B.S. in business from UIC in 1994, Meredith has worked for companies such as IBM and McDonalds. He started a healthy food home delivery service called Alter Eatgo, attracting celebrity clients like Juanita Jordan and TV news anchor Cheryl Burton. He appears on local television news shows, giving cooking tips on preparing nutritious dishes.

But trying to change adult eating habits is a daunting challenge, he discovered. Kids became his new focus.

“It’s easier for them to un-learn bad behavior than adults,” Meredith says.

“America’s struggling with obesity. I understand people. I don’t talk down. I can relate.”

Meredith thinks the more people who see his video, the better his chances to get the right connection that attracts funding support from a foundation or celebrities with philanthropic interests.

“If I can tap into what resonates with children, it’ll catch on like wildfire,” he predicts.

He hopes to produce at least eight initial episodes of “The Healthologist,” supplemented with an online presence for kids where they can learn more and exchange ideas via social media.

In the meantime, he’s bolstering his already impressive credentials by studying for an M.S. in nutrition in the College of Applied Health Sciences, with plans to become a licensed dietitian.

Bursting with enthusiasm, Meredith is eager to be known as one of the country’s top chefs advocating for children’s health and nutrition.

“When the end comes and people ask ‘what was this guy’s contribution to society?’ I hope it’s that he helped kids, he made a dent in America’s health crisis,” he says.

francuch@uic.edu


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