2004 Champions

Champions by Year

Dr. Gerald S. Berenson

Dr. Gerald S. Berenson

“By teaching kids self-esteem and respect for their bodies as early as kindergarten, we can do a great deal in prevention of heart disease 20 and 30 years later.”


In December of 1998 at the age of 76, Dr. Gerald Berenson published a companion textbook to Health Ahead/Heart Smart, his comprehensive health education program for children. Dr. Berenson launched this program for local schoolchildren in 1987, motivated by the results of his world-renowned Bogalusa Heart Study, notably that heart disease begins in early childhood.

Health Ahead/Heart Smart is a remarkable, comprehensive program that not only addresses general nutrition, exercise and self-esteem, but sensitive issues like violent behavior, drugs and sexually transmitted diseases – detriments to the health and education of our children. The Health Ahead/Heart Smart program is so effective that school districts across the country are now beginning to offer the curriculum.

Now age 82, Dr. Berenson’s insatiable drive seems to propel him toward new and complex challenges. After more than 30 years of leading the Bogalusa Heart Study, Dr. Berenson and his team have just secured a six-year grant for continued research from the National Institute on Aging. How remarkable…from its genesis as a pediatric study, the Bogalusa Heart Study has grown along with its subjects and is now investigating aging and longevity.

“Excellence through experience” is aptly defined by the achievement of Dr. Gerald Berenson. He has shown that we can all make a difference in the health of our children, our community and ourselves. Dr. Gerald Berenson… Peoples Health Champion.