Positive experiences in the earliest years result in better physical health throughout life. A new analysis in Science of outcomes for children enrolled in the Abecedarian preschool program in North Carolina confirms that those children have significantly better health as adults than their peers in a control group.
Children in the program got healthy meals and snacks, as well as high-quality preschool learning and health support. As a result, they were significantly more likely to take good care of themselves as adults, and have lower rates of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
We at DEL work to ensure all of the programs and services we offer are high quality (measured by Early Achievers) and include a focus on the "whole child," which includes not just learning, but also physical and social/emotional health.
The analysis concludes that policymakers should use this new research in several ways, including to make sure they integrate health and nutrition into early childhood programs. In Washington, health and nutrition are essential components of our state-funded preschool program and in licensed child care.
Read an overview of the analysis here.
Read more about the powerful connection between high-quality early learning experiences and lifelong health from our partners at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.