Active Early & Healthy Bites: Home Edition was created in response to the demand for increased family outreach and coordination between home and child care environments when it comes to childhood obesity, childhood nutrition and childhood physical activity. Active Early & Healthy Bites are companion initiatives that focus on improving nutrition and physical activity in early care and education settings. While these initiatives have seen great success, it is well known that families are the most important part of a child’s life and it is critical that children receive consistent nutrition and physical activity messages across home and care settings.
The following content will take you through trends in health and behaviors that are occurring, prevention and what it really means for our young children, what it means to be active early and how we can make it happen and the ways in which we can encourage healthy eating early on. Then, you can explore the linked posts that introduce various learning centers made for adults to educate themselves. The learning center format allows you to pick the topics most critical to you and spend more time delving into those. Then, you’ll walk through strategies to ensure healthy habits are sustained across various settings, including early care and education settings. Wrap things up with final thoughts and commitments.
Obesity Defined: A condition in which there is a very large amount of extra body fat stored in the body.
Overweight Defined: A condition in which there is more body fat stored in the body than what is normal for a person’s age, height and build, but not to the extent of obesity.
The Problem Defined: Approximately 31% of Wisconsin’s 2 to 4 year old children on WIC are overweight or obese (PDNSS data). This rate more than doubles for Wisconsin’s adults. In fact, this is the first time in centuries that children could be facing a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Why this potential reversal in life expectancy? There are various chronic and severe illness associated with obesity, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There are preschoolers now who are already showing signs of chronic illnesses that used to only be seen in aging adults.
Early Childhood is the perfect opportunity to address childhood obesity. Why might this be?
- You can still prevent it
- Development is occurring rapidly
- Children are learning quickly at this age
- We can construct their environment
Prevention defined: Stopping something before it becomes a problem. This does require action on our part, as adults. Passive prevention is not really an option.
Prevention is key! If we start later, we’ve waited too long and missed a great opportunity. Young children are taking in the world around them at a rapid speed. This presents the perfect opportunity for teaching healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Why is this? Because healthy norms have been set.
Example: The Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study by Fox, Pac, Devaney and Jankowski (2004) found that French fries are one of the three most common “vegetables” eaten by infants 9 to 11 months of age, and French fries are the most common “vegetable” served to children 15 to 18 months.
Example: When a child is offered a choice between plain milk and chocolate milk from an early age, this becomes the norm, the expectation. And guess which type of milk is chosen most! Chocolate Milk. Adults can ensure that all the choices are healthy and set that as the norm. So the options could be water or plain milk. Then no matter the choice they make, children are making a healthy one.
While we’re seeing symptoms of chronic illness in very young children, we know that chronic illness is presenting itself in adolescents and adults. We also know that while some chronic illnesses can be reversed, there is always the possibility of consequences that can’t be, like amputation due to unmanaged diabetes or cardiovascular damage from a heart attack or other heart disease.
Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind that young children are growing very quickly. Losing weight is never a goal unless specifically discussed between parents and physicians. Rather, we want to foster a future of healthy growth and development for every child by promoting physical activity and nutrition.
A. 2 to 3 Times B. 5 to 6 Times
C. 7 to 8 Times D. 10 to 15 Times
2. What percent of children under the age of two have a television in their room?
A. 9% B. 26%
C. 51% D. 43%
3. How many minutes of physical activity do 2 to 5 year olds need each day and how much should be led by an adult?
A. 120; one-half B. 60; one-half
C. 90; one-fourth D. 30; one-third
4. When does a child’s body mass index typically reach its lowest point?
A. Infancy B. Elementary Years
C. Preschool Years D. Adolescence
5. Which is NOT necessarily a whole grain?
A. Brown Rice
B. 100% Whole Wheat Bread
C. Seven-Grain Bread
6. What type of milk is recommended for children ages 2 and older?
A. 2% Milk
B. Chocolate or Strawberry Flavored Milk
C. Whole Milk
D. 1% or Fat Free Milk
7. Which statement is NOT true?
A. To promote healthy eating, parents and caregivers should choose healthy options to serve and children should choose how much to eat.
B. Opportunities for moderate to vigorous physical activity are essential for children to learn healthy habits early on.
C. Young children don’t need guidance in being physically active. They are naturally active enough.
D. Young children are more likely to adopt healthy eating and physical activity habits when they see adults modeling them.
Access the Answer Key here.
- Active Early: A Wisconsin Guide to Improving Childhood Physical Activity
- Active Start: A Statement of Physical Activity Guidelines for Children From Birth to Age 5, 2nd Edition
- Healthy Bites: A Wisconsin Guide to Improving Childhood Nutrition
- Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity
Parts II through VI of Active Early & Healthy Bites: Home Edition Coming Soon!