Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies

A report from the Institute of Medicine, Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies, summarizes the best available evidence about key strategies for preventing obesity among children from birth to age 5. The report recommends ways individuals, organizations and policymakers can ensure that young children have healthy environments in which to live, learn and play.

Among the key recommendations from the report are those that call for changing public policies that impact child-care centers, including:

  • establishing dietary guidelines for children from birth to age 2;
  • increasing participation in food assistance programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • ensuring that recreation areas encourage all children to be active;
  • allowing community residents to use school playgrounds and recreation areas when schools are closed; and
  • establishing voluntary nutrition and marketing standards for the food and beverage industry.

Several recommendations in this new report are directly in line with RWJF’s efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic, including our policy priorities that focus on: improving access to healthy foods in communities; providing incentives through federal food assistance programs to help families buy healthier foods; making it easier for kids and families to be active in their communities; and limiting kids’ exposure to ads for unhealthy foods and beverages.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded the work of the IOM committee that independently produced the report.