As the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) previously reported, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2012. The CDC also reported that the percentage of 6-11 year olds and 12-19 year olds considered obese rose from 7 and 5% in 1980 to 18 and 21% for those age groups in 2012. This data is a clear indication and stark reminder of how prevalent childhood obesity is in our society.
Kaplan Early Learning Company understands the health effects and life consequences that can result from childhood obesity, which is why we offer a variety of quality resources to help parents, educators, and caregivers teach proper nutrition and combat childhood obesity. Browse our various resources and tools for more information about childhood obesity and the ways you can help prevent childhood obesity from becoming even more prevalent.
What You Can Do
To help ensure children's physical and emotional well-being now and in the future as adults, there are a few simple things parents, educators, and caregivers can do to help fight childhood obesity:
- Discuss the importance of proper nutrition. Talk to children about portion sizes and why they need to eat a balanced diet. Starting conversations about nutrition when a child is younger can help them learn and develop healthy eating habits at an earlier age. Educators should make sure they include nutrition in their lesson plans throughout the school year, and adults should also encourage kids to play with toys or complete activities that will help reinforce the nutritional concepts they learn in school and at home.
- Encourage physical activity. In addition to discussing nutrition with kids, adults should also encourage kids to be physically active. Adults can come up with fun games and activities for kids to do outside, for example, or they can offer kids the opportunity to sign up for a variety of sports and other outdoor games. If you need new outdoor play ideas, Let's Take It Outside! is a great resource for teacher-created activities that support outdoor learning and play.
Time spent on the playground will also encourage children to be more physically active. Make sure the playground at your school has safe and fun equipment for the children it serves, and be sure to visit our playground section for new equipment ideas or information about full-service playgrounds. If students do not have a scheduled recess time or a playground to utilize, educators should have at least one or two lesson plans each week that incorporate a physical activity to help get kids moving.
- Be positive role models. Talking about nutrition and physical activity can be beneficial to children, but it's important for adults to lead by example. Children will be more likely to believe they should eat properly and be more physically active if they see the important adults in their life embodying the values they are being taught. This doesn't mean you have to eat well all the time, but let children see you eating correct portion sizes and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Educators at schools that provide lunch for school-aged students should make sure their schools are providing the best school lunches possible and should also encourage students to choose a variety of food at lunch.
- Watch kids for signs of food addiction or disorders. Binge eating, sneaking or hiding food, self-induced vomiting, frequent dieting, excessive exercising, and restrictive eating are just a few signs of eating disorders in children. If educators suspect that a child has an eating disorder, they should notify or ask to meet with the child's parents. If parents are notified by a teacher or notice signs of an eating disorder, then they can choose to address it at home or get professional help.
Let's Move! Child Care
Many children spend time in child care, which means they are in the care of someone other than their parents for a good portion of the day. Due to the time children spend in child care, early care and education (ECE) providers have a responsibility to help prevent childhood obesity and other preventable health issues. At Kaplan Early Learning Company, we understand and support the vital role ECE providers have in children's health and education, which is why we chose to partner with Nemours for an exciting new initiative aimed at creating healthy ECE environments.
The Let's Move! Child Care initiative uses the National Early Care and Education Learning Collaborative (ECELC) to empower and support the growth of ECE providers as they learn, grow, and make changes to better their programs and become advocates for children's health and education. The goals of the ECELC and the Let's Move! Child Care initiative include improving nutrition, physical activity, and screen time practices in ECE settings; encouraging and finding ways to increase support for breastfeeding in ECE settings; and strengthening ECE policies and programs to improve ECE environments and support the initiative's goals.
We encourage early child care and education providers to join us in the Let's Move! Child Care initiative. The Let's Move! Child Care website has more information about how you can join, strategies state and local leaders can use to make changes, and various ideas and resources to help children improve their nutrition and increase their physical activity. The initiative's website also offers a Let's Move! Child Care Checklist Quiz to help ECE providers recognize areas that need improvement and a Suggested Supplies list to help make those improvements a reality.
"Childhood Obesity" (American Heart Association)
"Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity" (CDC)
"Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity: School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity" (CDC)
"Overweight and Obesity" (KidsHealth)
"About Childhood Obesity" (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Let's Move! Child Care
National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR)
Partnership for a Healthier America
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Overweight and Obesity (American Academy of Pediatrics)