Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Can Childcare Providers Help Stop Childhood Obesity?

Learn simple steps childcare providers can take in order to prevent childhood obesity.

Currently, approximately 60 percent of children under age 5 are in some form of child care, spending approximately 29 hours a week there. Over half of obese children first become overweight at or before age 2 and one in five children are overweight or obese by the time they turn 6.

First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move campaign, releasing a checklist of best practices for reducing childhood obesity that child care providers could implement in order to aid in the prevention of it. The checklist includes:

Physical Activity
Childcare providers should offer 1-2 hours of physical activity throughout the day, especially outdoor activity if possible.

Screen Time

Children under 2 years of age should not look at electronic screens, but for children age 2 and older, screen time should be approximately 30 minutes per week during child care hours. Providers should work with parents to ensure that children do not get more than 1-2 hours of screen time per day, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Food & Beverage
Childcare providers should serve fruits or vegetables at every meal, avoid fried foods and eat in a group when possible. Beverages should consist of water, which should be offered throughout the day, low-fat or non-fat milk and no more than 6 oz. of 100% juice per day. Sugary drinks, such as soda should be avoided.

Childcare Providers & Parent Involvement
While we’ve discussed how parent involvement is crucial in early childhood development, it’s also crucial for reinforcing these healthy habits. Even if childcare providers are following the checklist, it may not be enough unless they are actively pursuing parent involvement and engagement.

Engaging Parents
If parents are able to see that their child is eating and drinking healthy and getting a lot of physical activity, they may become inspired and thus more inclined to continue those habits at home. Childcare providers can easily do this by sending pictures and/or videos of their children eating healthy snacks and playing outside via childcare management applications. Seeing a video of their child playing outside, and how happy it makes them, may inspire parents to play with their children outdoors more—despite their busy days.

If you’re a childcare provider, let us know how you plan to, or how you already have, implemented the checklist by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

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