Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Get Answers from Seasoned Experts Re: Your Family’s Heart Health

You've heard it before – on the radio or perhaps at your doctor's office. You've seen it on school playgrounds, on television, maybe even in your own family.

According to the American Heart Association, one out of every six kids between the ages of 6 and 19 are considered obese. And that puts them at much greater risk than their healthy weight peers of developing – and dying from – heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases when they reach adulthood. The question is, what can a parent do about the childhood obesity epidemic?

Perhaps the most important thing is: ask questions. Educating yourself and your children about growing healthy bodies and strong hearts is the best way to reduce your child's chance of life-threatening disease down the road. That's why Seattle's Child Family & Kids at and the American Heart Association Puget Sound are joining forces beginning April 6 to connect parents directly with the experts who can answer your questions about kids, healthy diet, exercise and overall heart health.

From April 6 to April 17, Dr. Gordon Cohen, professor and Chief of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery at Seattle Children's Hospital will be joined by Deborah Enos, certified nutritionist and one of the most popular health coaches on the West Coast, and Marcus McMahon, ACSM-HFI–certified health instructor and lead trainer who has experience medically supervising pediatric weight management programs. These experts will be online on the Seattle's Child Family & Kids section of to tackle your health questions and help you make good decisions to improve and maintain your child's physical well-being.

The launch of this special event coincides with the American Heart Association's National Start! Walking Day on April 6. The campaign aims to encourage all members or families, young or old, to walk for at least 30 minutes a day. Research shows that this simple act can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The association hopes that thirty minutes is just a start for families. That's because their physical activity guidelines for Americans recommend that children engage in sixty minutes or more of physical activity each day. Fit and active kids are not only healthier, but research also indicates that their school performance is improved.

Toward this end, the American Heart Association supports the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act (H.R.1057/S.576), federal legislation that has been re-introduced in Congress this year. The bill would establish a framework for schools to closely look at the quality and quantity of PE they are providing, and to supply parents with that information to better understand the PE their kids are receiving.

Got questions? Ask our experts – all experts are spokespersons for the American Heart Association.


Who Are Our Experts and What Can They Answer?


Gordon A. Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., is chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Seattle Children’s Hospital and professor of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He is co-director of Seattle Children’s Heart Center and holds the Sam and Althea Stroum Endowed Chair in Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery.

He received his M.D. from Tulane University School of Medicine; he earned an MS and a PhD in pharmacology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and completed his MBA at the University of Tennessee in a program designed specifically for physicians. He completed residencies in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine and in general surgery at UCLA Medical Center. Cohen was a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London and senior lecturer at the Institute of Child Health at University College London. His interests include complex neonatal repairs, pediatric heart and lung transplant, mechanical cardiac assistance and heart failure. He is conducting research on the use of pediatric ventricular assist devices.

Ask Dr. Cohen questions like this: How and what kind of early habits in kids can lead to healthy adult hearts?

Deborah Enos, CN, also known as “The One-Minute Wellness Coach,” is one of the most popular health coaches on the West Coast. She specializes in working with extraordinarily busy people. She pares her good-health messages down to simple and fast bullet points that can impact lives in 60 seconds or less. In most cases, her advice is something that may add a couple of minutes to your daily routine but will add a huge dose of energy and vitality to your day.

Enos is a dynamic motivational speaker and author of the popular book Weight a Minute! Transform your Health in 60 Seconds a Day. This unique and easy-to-read book was created to supply busy people with accurate health information that can quickly be applied to a busy lifestyle. Enos serves as a board member of the American Heart Association. She has appeared on NBC, ABC and FOX News, and has been featured in The Costco Connection, Parade Magazine, Self Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping and USA Today.

Ask Deborah Enos, CN, questions like this: How important are a family’s eating habits to maintaining a healthy heart?

Marcus McMahon, ACSM-HFI, is an independent health fitness instructor and clinical research assistant at Seattle Children’s Hospital. As the lead trainer of a medically supervised pediatric weight management program, he has helped many children improve their health and wellness. He has worked in the fitness industry for more than ten years and specializes in working with metabolic disorders including obesity and diabetes. He strongly believes that anyone can achieve their fitness goals with the proper motivation and education. McMahon has a BA in Biology and is ACSM-HFI certified. 

Ask Marcus McMahon questions like this: What are easy ways my family and I can get active together?