Mississippi is at the center of a full-blown obesity epidemic, and the American Heart Association has identified several policies priorities to help combat this ever growing problem. The AHA advocates for strong obesity prevention programs in early childhood education settings. One such setting, child care, is an important environment for forming good health habits around children's dietary intake, physical activity, and energy balance, thus combating the childhood obesity epidemic.[i]
Child care providers are in a unique position to educate parents about the importance of healthy eating and physical activity, while also supporting a healthy environment for children to learn and grow.
Mississippi standards are particularly strong in the areas of nutrition and physical activity. All except one area…physical activity for toddlers. Current Mississippi regulations state, toddlers in the child care setting are only required to have 30 minutes of play when in attendance for 7 hours or more.[ii] The American Heart Association recommends moderate and vigorous physical activity for at least 60 min./day for full-day programs or 30 min. /day for a half-day morning or afternoon program.
The AHA is asking that the Mississippi State Department of Health increase regulations to meet the national standards in the area of physical activity. Every child deserves a healthy start in life. No matter where children live or go for early care and education, they all deserve healthy food and physical activity. It will help them grow up healthier, and children learn better in healthy environments. The Childcare Advisory Council will be hearing oral comments in the coming weeks. If you are willing to help out with this effort, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
[i] Kumanyika, S.K., et al. (2008). Population-based prevention of obesity: The need for comprehensive promotion of healthful eating, physical activity, and energy balance. Circulation, 118(4), 428-464. doi: 10.1161/circulationaha.108.189702.
[ii] Regulations can be found: http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/30,0,183,225.html