Limiting television and other media use, encouraging infants and young children in preschool and child care to spend more time in physically active play, and requiring child care providers to promote healthy sleeping practices are some of the actions needed to curb high rates of obesity among America’s youngest children.
The report from the Institute of Medicine recommends steps that should be taken by child care centers, preschools, pediatricians’ offices, federal nutrition programs, and other facilities and programs that shape children’s activities and behaviors.
About 10 percent of children from infancy to age 2 and slightly over 20 percent of children ages 2 through 5 are overweight or obese. The rates of excess weight and obesity among children ages 2 to 5 have doubled since the 1980s.
“Contrary to the common perception that chubby babies are healthy babies and will naturally outgrow their baby fat, excess weight tends to persist,” said committee chair Leann Birch, Distinguished Professor of Human Development and director, Center for Childhood Obesity Research, Pennsylvania State University, University Park.
“This is a national concern because weight-related conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure once occurred almost exclusively in adults but are now occurring at rising rates among teens and young adults. Child care providers, health professionals, and policymakers can be helpful partners to parents in reducing obesity risk by creating healthy environments and implementing positive practices during the crucial early years of development.”
Obesity cannot be solved by tackling only one factor, the committee said. It requires a multipronged approach that includes:
– Identifying At-Risk Children
– Sufficient Sleep
– Physically Active Play
– Healthy Eating
Source: National Academy of Sciences, USA