There’s a new doctor in town. Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, Director of Mount Sinai Heart, is the inspiration for a Muppet doctor on Barrio Sésamo: Monstrous Supersanos, the Spanish version of Sesame Streetwhich debuted on Spain’s Antena 3 just last month. The character named “Dr. Valentin Ruster” is helping to educate children to lead healthier lifestyles through exercise and healthy diet.
Dr. Fuster, who is the former president of the American Heart Association and the World Heart Foundation, hails from Barcelona, Spain, and holds numerous distinctions including honorary doctorate degrees from 30 distinguished universities across the globe. As the Chair of the Committee on Preventing the Global Epidemic of Cardiovascular Disease for the Institute of Medicine (IOM), he is a prominent advocate for cardiovascular health around the globe. With the addition of Dr. Ruster on the series in Spain, Dr. Fuster’s likeness is helping to educate children to lead healthier lifestyles through exercise and healthy diet and lifestyle.
And just who is Dr. Ruster? In the Muppet doctor’s own words, “I have dedicated myself to that miraculous, beautiful organ… the heart! My heart jumps at the chance to spend time with my furry friends in Barrio Sésamo. We love to exercise and eat scrumptious fruits and veggies together. But most of all, I just love to talk to my friends helping them get to the heart of any matter.” In the first episode ofBarrio Sésamo: Monstrous Supersanos, produced by nonprofit educational organization Sesame Workshop, Dr. Ruster enlightens Grover on the functions of the heart, while on another, he hosts a game show testing Cookie Monster on the difference between healthy and unhealthy food.
Dr. Fuster serves as an international advisor on Sesame Workshop’s Global Health Initiative. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death around the world, and the goal of the initiative is to measure health improvements in children and build global partnerships to address their critical health issues. In fact, many studies show that childhood obesity leads to cardiovascular disease, thru an increase in cardiovascular disease risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. Globally, in 2010, the number of overweight children under the age of five is estimated to be over 42 million. Sesame Workshop, which has been creating specific content on healthy habits for young children and their families for almost a decade, is now exploring opportunities with Dr. Fuster to extend its initiative in the United States.
Dr. Fuster first joined forces with Sesame Workshop in 2006 to collaborate with Plaza Sesamo, the Latin American version ofSesame Street, to promote cardiovascular health and well-being in Colombia. The series there encourages children, parents, teachers, and caregivers in making informed nutritional and lifestyle decisions based on educational television content, community outreach, and evidence-based research.
Dr. Fuster is working on six other projects worldwide with the goal of promoting health among children, adults, and the elderly.