In the United States, 21.2% of young children ages 2 – 5 years old are overweight or obese, prevalence climbs as children grow older, and associated morbidity is detectable in children as young as 3 years old. Early childhood is a critical period in which the foundations for lifelong preferences and habits are initially formed. Child care settings can be a critical venue to promote healthy eating and physical activity. With more than 12 million young children spending a portion of their day in a child care setting, young children commonly consume a significant portion of their daily food intake—as well as engage in much of their daily physical activity—while in this venue. Investment in prevention efforts for young children can improve health across the lifespan.
As a children’s health system committed to improving the health of children, Nemours has expanded its reach by providing a broader community-based approach that includes health promotion and disease prevention. By playing a role in local communities and organizations and promoting healthy eating and active living, Nemours promotes health and wellness to address the root causes of health problems such as childhood obesity.
Through funds provided by the Winter Park Health Foundation, the Nemours Florida Prevention Initiative has recruited child care programs in the communities of Winter Park, Eatonville, and Maitland to participate in the Nemours Child Care Obesity Prevention Initiative. Through this effort, child care sites and elementary schools with VPK programs have been identified and trained on the Healthy Habits for Life (HHL) Child Care Resource Kit developed in partnership with Sesame Workshop, KidsHealth® and Nemours Health & Prevention Services and Sometimes/Anytime food and activity game cards, received on-site technical assistance and developed a customized wellness policy to promote a healthier environment for the children in their care.