Apr 5, 2016, 11:00 AM, Posted by Jamie Bussel
We want all kids to enter kindergarten at a healthy weight. And we believe it’s possible within the decade.
Pregnancy through early childhood forms a critical window of opportunity for ensuring children get a healthy start to life.
In March, our program Healthy Eating Research published the most comprehensive examination to date of factors that can increase a child’s risk for obesity early in life. It shows that women who weigh more before they get pregnant, gain excess weight during pregnancy, or use tobacco while pregnant, are more likely to have children who become overweight or obese.
There are a variety of factors beyond prenatal health that also influence a child’s weight. Children form their taste preferences early in life, which is why it’s so important to ensure that they have access to a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains―right when they begin eating solid foods. Play and physical activity are also essential for optimal development. And there’s no reason for young children to drink sugary drinks—milk and water are best. All of these habits, if learned in early childhood, can last a lifetime.
The good news is the country as a whole is making progress in helping more kids start life at a healthy weight: Obesity rates among kids ages 2 to 5 have gone down in recent years.