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Today, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced the Healthy Kids from Day One Act, with the support of Nemours, Trust for America’s Health, the YMCA of the USA, the American Heart Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE); Senator Chris Coons (D-DE); Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) co-sponsored the bill.
The legislation includes a pilot proposal establishing child care collaborative workshops at the local level to offer child care providers tools, training and assistance in implementing strategies that encourage healthy eating, physical activity and appropriate screen time limits in the child care environment.
In the United States, 75 percent of children 3- to 5-years-old are in child care and 56 percent are in centers, including nursery schools, preschools, and full-day centers. More than 24 percent of children 2- to 5-years-old are overweight or obese. This puts them at risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions later in life.
“I am pleased to see continued leadership in reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity,” remarked Debbie Chang, Vice President of Policy and Prevention at Nemours. “This bill would serve as a complement to the First Lady’s Let’s Move Child Care initiative, and would help expand upon work in child care launched by Nemours and
Obesity-focused collaborative trainings have led to positive changes in the child care environment; 100 percent of centers participating in 2008-09 training led by Nemours in Delaware made changes to healthy eating or physical activity practices as a result of the program. Additional evaluation suggests that targeted changes were sustained for a year after the collaborative training without further intervention.
"Since 1980, childhood obesity rates have tripled. This epidemic is putting today’s youth on course to possibly be the first generation to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents," said Jeff Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH and chair of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health. "We are pleased to see the Healthy Kids from Day One Act introduced as we need to do all we can to help children stay healthy and happy."
"Preventable chronic diseases caused by being overweight or obese are sidelining young people physically, socially and emotionally,” said YMCA of the USA President and CEO Neil Nicoll. “At the Y, we work with children every day to educate them about making healthy choices, so they can reach their fullest potential. This legislation will be a great help to us and all child care providers who are implementing nutrition and physical-activity standards aimed at improving the health of our nation’s children.”
"Teaching young children the value of physical activity and healthy eating before they adopt harmful habits is a critical step toward addressing the obesity trend," said Nancy Brown, American Heart Association CEO. "Since more than half of young children spend time in child care settings, the pilot program created through the Healthy Kids from Day One Act could play an essential role in encouraging healthier behaviors."
"Reversing the trend of childhood obesity in this country will require a coordinated effort among all sectors of society to develop comprehensive strategies aimed at improved nutrition and increased physical activity," said Robert Block, MD, FAAP, president, American Academy of Pediatrics. "Encouraging habits that promote healthy eating, physical activity, and appropriate screen time limits from a very early age is a step in the right direction. This legislation has the potential to make a big impact towards eliminating a significant threat to our children's health."
Nemours, Trust for America’s Health, the YMCA of the USA, the American Heart Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics commend Senator Mark Udall, Senator Carper, Senator Coons, Senator Tom Udall and Senator Franken for their commitment to childhood obesity prevention.