First lady Michelle Obama released a checklist today of healthy practices child care providers can use to reduce childhood obesity.
The Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and Bright Horizons, which manages employer-sponsored child care centers and early education programs, have already committed to these practices—a step that could positively impact approximately 280,000 children in 1,600 child care centers nationwide.
The checklist includes:
Physical Activity: Provide 1-2 hours of physical activity throughout the day, including outside play when possible. Screen Time: No screen time for children under 2 years. For children age 2 and older, strive to limit screen time to no more than 30 minutes per week during child care, and work with parents and caregivers to ensure children have no more than 1-2 hours of quality screen time per day, the amount recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Food: Serve fruits or vegetables at every meal, eat meals family-style when possible, and no fried foods. Beverages: Provide access to water during meals and throughout the day, and do not serve sugary drinks. For children ages 2 and older, serve low-fat (1%) or non-fat milk, and no more than one 4-6 ounce serving of 100% juice per day. Infant Feeding: For mothers who want to continue breastfeeding, provide their milk to their infants and welcome them to breastfeed during the child care day; and support all new parents in their decisions about infant feeding.
“Everyone is going to see that these small changes can make a big difference. If our kids get into the habit of getting up and playing, if their palates warm up to veggies at an early age, and if they’re not glued to a TV screen all day, they’re on their way to healthy habits for life,” Mrs. Obama said. “That’s why I’m so excited about Let’s Move! Child Care—because I know that childcare facilities and home-based providers can be a real building block for an entire generation of healthy kids.”
The initiative comes at a time when about 60 percent of children under 5 are in some form child care, and spending an average of 29 hours per week in that care, according to the Obama Administration’s Task Force on Childhood Obesity. 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 reach their 6th birthday.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.