Childcare Centers Can Play Key Role in Preventing Obesity

Jan 30, 2013

More than one-third of Americans are obese, and that number’s expected to grow in the near future.

 Health officials and community leaders recently gathered in Cleveland to discuss how childcare centers can help prevent obesity early on. Anne Glausser of member station WCPN in Cleveland reports.

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Many experts say the earlier you start helping children develop healthy habits, the better.

One such expert is Dr. William Dietz, the former Director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the CDC.

In his conference keynote address, he said the patterns kids develop while they’re young influence their health over the rest of their lives.

DIETZ:  Early care and education, for 0-5 year-olds, is the place to start because that’s when a lot of important growth characteristics are laid down.

Dietz recommends basic measures child care centers can take, such as swapping out high calorie snacks for fruits and vegetables, including a couple hours of play each day, preferably outside, and limiting kids’ TV time to less than 30 minutes.

And he says providers should get creative--like offer a dance class to get kids having fun and sneak in some exercise.

Billie Osbourne-Fears heads up Starting Point, an organization that provides training and support to childcare programs in Northeast Ohio.

She says some have made those kinds of improvements, but more needs to be done.

OSBOURNE-FEARS:  There has been focus on nutrition and on physical activity here and there, spotty, but I think that we have an opportunity now to really get our plan together, offer the kinds of supports that our programs need to carry out a comprehensive program aimed at obesity prevention.