The statistics are alarming. More than a quarter of U.S. preschool children ages 2-5 are overweight or obese. Many of these children spend most of their day in child care settings. We believe that reaching kids in these environments and teaching them how to make healthy decisions can help make a significant impact on childhood obesity. The time span between birth and age 5 is ideal for teaching kids heart-healthy habits that will last a life time. Peaking children’s interest in good nutrition and physical activity now will help set positive patterns for years to come.
More than a quarter of U.S. preschool children ages 2-5 are overweight or obese.
With inaugural funding provided by The William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, the American Heart Association and Nemours, a non-profit children’s health system, have recently launched Healthy Way to Grow, a technical assistance program for child care centers across the country aimed at decreasing obesity among children ages birth to five years old. The program provides direct, hands-on assistance, customized training, resources and tools to support healthy lifestyles in child care environments.
We believe getting ahead of the problem is essential. Developmentally, birth to age 5 is an ideal time to impact crucial life-long cognitive and behavioral development, and setting positive patterns for healthy diet and physical activity. With so many American children spending a majority of their day in early care and education centers, improving the healthfulness of child care environments makes a significant health impact. This can lead to both a decrease in the number of children under age 5 who are overweight and obese and a decreased risk of developing cardiovascular and other chronic disease over their lifetimes.
Birth to age 5 is an ideal time to impact crucial life-long cognitive and behavioral development, and setting positive patterns for healthy diet and physical activity.
We have provided $5.5 million to launch the program in six communities in 2013, Rochester, N.Y.; Denver, Colo.; Kansas City, Ks.; Northeastern Pa., Chicago, Ill., and Reno, Nev. in 2013 with the goal of expanding to more communities over the coming years. We’re just getting started, but we hope other organizations will help this program eventually reach children across the country!
As a longtime funder of programs that address challenges and needs in cardiac healthcare, we recognize the important role community health can play in the battle against childhood obesity. We are thrilled to be working with the American Heart Association to launch Healthy Way to Grow and support obesity prevention at the earliest ages.
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By Diana Spencer, Executive Director