Did you know that 60% of kids under the age of 6 spend the majority of their time in early childhood programs? Sadly these environments lack standards that help childcare providers and parents emphasize the important things for kids in these early developmental years: nutrition, physical activity, and limited screen time.
It’s easy to agree that all children deserve the benefits of a healthy environment when they are learning skills and habits that will stay with them into their adult years. That is why we at the American Heart Association are taking on the challenge to work to improve the standards in early childhood.
- Researchers estimate that 32.2% of children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 in the U.S. are overweight. Of those who are overweight, 17.3% are estimated to be obese.
- The greatest burden of the epidemic is among communities of color. More than 41% of black and Hispanic youth children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered overweight or obese, compared to 33.2% among their white counterpart.
- Studies have shown children’s brand knowledge, in relation to food and beverage, is a significant predictor of their body mass index.
- During 2011, the US Department of Agriculture began requiring that sites participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) make drinking water available throughout the day and serve only low-fat or nonfat milk to children aged 2 years and older.
- Head Start serves just over 900,000 low-income preschool-aged children through approximately 2,000 programs whose early childhood education services are supported by grants from the US Department of Health and Human Services. Despite existing regulations regarding health and nutrition, there are no specific requirements in 3 domains: 1) measuring or reporting children’s body mass index (BMI), 2) assessing and responding to household food insecurity, or 3) determining children’s maximum portion sizes by staff during meals.
Will you join our efforts and tell your policy makers to set strong standards for early care? To get involved reach out to Allyson Perron Drag at [email protected]