Friday, March 28, 2014

Tackling childhood obesity in Washington

Kids don't walk to school anymore (for the most part), and screens and sugary snacks are everywhere. What is a parent to do? 

While recent studies suggest that childhood obesity rates are beginning to decline, 1 out of 12 preschoolers in our nation is obese. We can do better! 

March is National Nutrition Month--a good time to focus on this important issue.

The 2014 Legislature included funding for Gov. Jay Inslee's Healthiest Next Generation Initiative. This will help state agencies--including DEL--do the strategic, coordinated work needed to tackle obesity. The key areas of focus will include supporting breastfeeding-friendly environments, and ensuring healthy early learning and K-12 environments through specific actions with measurable results.

The Department of Health (DOH) will lead this work, along with DEL, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and other key stakeholders. We will continue providing updates as this work progresses in the coming months.

But whether you are a parent, a child care provider or anyone else with children in your life, there are ways to improve the health of America's next generation starting now. Here are some resources to help get you started:

  • Our partners at DOH have launched a new blog called Adventures in Health, which features their program manager for the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Program. One of her first posts is about learning her 4-year-old son was in the overweight category based on his body mass index.
  • The Let's Move! Initiative includes ideas and information about physical activity, limiting screen time, and foods and beverages. This includes downloadable action plans for parents, children, schools and child care providers.
  • The USDA Choose My Plate website offers menus, tips for eating healthy on a budget and more.
  • Our partners at Thrive by Five Washington offer tips for fun activities to do with babies and toddlers through their Love. Talk. Play. website.
  • The Washington State Early Learning and Development Guidelines offer age-appropriate activities for children birth through third grade. (Look especially at the sections in each age range called "Touching, seeing, hearing and moving around" and "Growing up healthy.")

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