Printed with permission from the Cooper Institute.
Strategies for preventing childhood obesity have been established by a handful of organizations (e.g., Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) but recommendations specific to very young children (birth to age 5) are few and far between – until now! Just this week the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies. Acknowledging that almost 10% of infants and toddlers carry excess weight for their length; slightly more than 20% of children between the ages of 2 and 5 are already overweight or obese; and that early obesity can track into adulthood, the IOM developed key recommendations for individuals, organizations, and policy makers to ensure that young children have healthy environments in which to live, learn, and play.
The major goals are listed below. For key recommendations and potential actions you can take to meet the recommendations, click here.
- Assess, monitor, and track growth from birth to age five.
- Increase physical activity in young children.
- Decrease sedentary behavior in young children.
- Help adults increase physical activity and decrease sedentary behavior in young children.
- Promote the consumption of a variety of nutritious foods, and encourage and support breastfeeding during infancy.
- Create a healthful eating environment that is responsive to children’s hunger and fullness cues.
- Ensure access to affordable healthy foods for all children.
- Help adults increase children’s healthy eating.
- Limit young children’s screen time and exposure to food and beverage marketing.
- Use social marketing to provide consistent information and strategies for the prevention of childhood obesity in infancy and early childhood.
- Promote age-appropriate sleep durations among children.
Do you have or do you work with children 0-5 years of age? If so, Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies is worth a read. Clear evidence exists on the importance of early assessment of obesity risk, creating healthy eating and physical activity behaviors, limiting children’s screen time, and increasing children’s sleep duration for childhood obesity prevention. And there are many actions YOU can take to support these goals!