Approximately one-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for life-threatening and costly health problems like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The problem is not distributed evenly across the population: childhood obesity among preschoolers is more prevalent among children of color and those from lower-income families.
The good news is that childhood obesity can be prevented, and President Barack Obama has dedicated this month to that goal. Strong evidence demonstrates that habits adopted in the earliest years of a child’s life predictably influence future lifestyle behaviors, habits, and health. In honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, Healthy & Active Before 5 encourages your family or organization to make healthy changes together. Some ideas for healthy change include:
- Getting active: Walk around the neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or visit a local park. Families of young children in Contra Costa County can use these community-friendly bilingual maps of parent-approved parks that we created in partnership with the Regional Groups funded by First 5 Contra Costa.
- Limiting screen time: Keep screen time (time spent on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games) to 2 hours or less a day. For tips on how parents can reduce their children’s screen time, see our Parents Have the Power brochures, which are available to download and print.
- For organizations – passing a healthy policy! Our Pledge the Practice, Pass the Policy Initiative asks agencies to adopt policies that support breastfeeding, healthy food and beverage consumption, tap water consumption, active movement and play, and reducing the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children. If your organization serves children 0-5 and is in Contra Costa County, you may qualify to receive a $500 mini-grant to implement your policy!
- Advocate for healthy policy, systems, and environment change. Election season is here and there are lots of ways to get involved and make your voice heard for children’s health. Not sure where to start? Check out the Public Health Advocates database of Innovative State Laws.
Taking small steps like these can help children grow up at a healthy weight. That’s why we’re committed to preventing obesity in children age 0-5 by building partnerships and environments for healthy eating and active play. For more information on National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, see cdc.gov.