How to Reduce Childhood Obesity

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Why We Need Nutrition Education for Preschool-Age Kids

According to the Center for Health Improvement‘s report, Preschoolers Increasingly Overweight, “the widespread causes and consequences of childhood obesity point to the need for multilevel systemic change in the United States”. The Center recognizes the need for nutrition intervention to prevent obesity due to a, “pattern of inactivity and poor nutrition” that “develops early in life, making the promotion of physical activity and healthy eating habits imperative among very young children”.

The USDA Targets Eating Habits of Preschool-Aged Children

The new preschool USDA food guide pyramid represents an effort on the part of the U.S. government to combat the mounting epidemic of childhood obesity. Other similar recent efforts are the “Verb” campaign from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This campaign focuses on getting kids more physically active. The new United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food guide pyramid for preschoolers is tackling the childhood obesity epidemic from the nutrition perspective. With the tag lines of “eat right”, “exercise”, and “have fun”, the USDA hopes to combat the problem of childhood obesity at it’s roots.

Research studies such as Recommendations for Prevention of Childhood Obesity recognize the need to begin nutrition education long before adulthood when eating and physical activity habits are still being formed. The new USDA preschool food guide pyramid at mypyramid.gov is designed for children ages two to five. At mypyramid.gov, parents can customize a food guide for their preschool-aged child using the mypyramid plan. Other useful tools can be found at the site that inform parents about child development and growth.

The new preschool food guide pyramid doesn’t only target nutrition but it also focuses on cultivating a love for and enjoyment of physical activity. The USDA lists links to other government agency sites with similar resources for parents of kids in preschool. The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are among those other agencies.

There is a wealth of other information and resources related to preschool nutrition at mypyramid.gov including:

  • Information for moms of preschool-aged kids that are picky eaters
  • Tools that teach parents how to model healthy eating behaviors for their kids in preschool as well as the rest of the family
  • Tools and resources for health professionals that work with preschool-aged children
  • Parenting tips and child safety information
  • Recipes and snacking advice that preschoolers will love

Only time will tell if these new programs will accomplish what they were designed to do.

Resources

Recommendations for Prevention of Childhood Obesity, Pediatrics, December 2007

MyPyramid.gov

Preschoolers Increasingly Overweight, Center for Health Improvement, Janurary 2005