Children’s health experts across the country are celebrating the recent launch of a new early childhood wellness initiative from the American Heart Association. The initiative, which is also supported by Nemours Children’s Health System and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, aims to engage and involve parents and caregivers in the process of helping children to build healthy habits from an early age, with a primary focus on children from birth to the age of 5.
According to recent statistics, one in three American children is obese. The number is alarming given that research has repeatedly linked obesity with an increased risk for more serious health conditions, including cardiovascular disease and other related heart problems. Research has also shown that children who develop healthy habits at a young age, such as eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise, are far more likely to continue those habits later in life. However, given that young children are entirely dependent on their parents and caregivers, developing healthy habits can be difficult if these adults don’t have the time, awareness, or resources to help promote them.
The issue is exactly what the new early childhood wellness initiative aims to address. The initiative seeks to educate families, caregivers, and teachers by providing resources — both in-person and online — to support the creation of wellness policies in existing early care and education programs. The initiative’s founding organizations will also support state policy efforts focused on promoting children’s health in local communities, and will work with the food and beverage industry to ensure that early care and education programs have healthy food and drink options available for their participants. All of these efforts are designed around the central goal of creating a healthier environment in which children can live, learn, and play, as the most effective way of creating a healthier generation.
The new initiative will expand and build on Healthy Way to Grow, a program launched in 2013 by Nemours and AHA that supports physical activity and healthy eating in early care and education facilities.