Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Day Care?

The popular press article I read today was written by Lauran Neergaard from the AP. I have read her before and she doesn't write about junk science so I didn't personally review the research and statements that she noted.

The issue was childhood obesity, no news there. This time though, the weight control experts are talking about intervening at the preschool level and in daycare centers where as many as 75% of this (USA) country's 2-5 year olds spend some part of their day. Experts are now advocating for earlier intervention because even by elementary school it can be too late. Remember that obese children often turn into obese adults and obesity can significantly shorten life expectancy while also raising health care costs for everyone.

When tobacco control experts began targeting youth in the late 1980s early 90s, we went to the high schools. Now the intervention targets middle school aged kids, so in this way, the two causes seem similar. And to repeat a statement I use often in my trainings, "It is so much easier to never start smoking than it is to quit."

It is so much easier to NOT become overweight than it is to LOSE weight.

I applaud these new ideas, even as the notion of "20% of 4 year olds being obese" drops my jaw. Surely that research is flawed. And then, if over 30% of adults are obese and they usually had weight problems as children... well...

The recommendations are sound, positive, feasible. Some are calling for actual mandates to be written into the Child Nutrition Act when it is renewed this year. But did you ever think that we would have to TELL child care workers the following:

Start providing calorie smart menus, with low energy density foods - LOW fat milk (1% or fat free IN daycare!)
Provide 60 minutes of exercise and another 60 minutes of free active play
Do not let the kids sit at an activity longer than 30 minutes
Teach kids about FOOD and that a colorful plate is a healthy plate
No sugar sweetened beverages (ZERO)
No more than 6 ounces of 100% fruit juice per day

We cannot feed our kids junk food, tell them to be still and then expect them to be normal weight healthy adults. Ain't going to happen. I would be thrilled to be a part of this new wave of obesity prevention.

1 comment:

Jess said...

This was my biggest problem at the school Eva attended for almost two years - all the junk they gave her. Juice, McDonalds one day a week, M&Ms for rewards and frequently cookies or cupcakes for morning snack (they said they were just for birthday celebrations, but it was ALWAYS someones birthday!) I spoke to the teacher-owners a number of times and they acted like I was crazy, as if I were taking away a basic right of childhood. After working so hard to get Eva to love fresh fruit and veggies, and after spending 5K on her dental work, I was especially irritated about the weekly popcorn-gummibear combo, a dentists nightmare. When they realized I was serious about Eva's diet, they started hiding what they gave her. And this was at a school I actually liked otherwise. Personally, I think that school nutrition should be monitored closely and the rules you mention in your post should be followed as closely as any other daycare mandate. Anything else is irresponsible and puts our kids at risk.