What is Childhood Obesity?
Childhood obesity is a common and serious public health problem. It occurs when a child’s weight is much higher than what is normal for his or her age and height. Over the last 30 years, the prevalence of childhood obesity has increased significantly with 1 in 5 U.S. children ages 2-5 already considered overweight or obese. Obese children are more likely to become obese as adults compared to their normal weight peers. This is of concern because obesity is a major risk factor associated with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers.
What Causes Childhood Obesity?
The causes of obesity are complex, but are very much similar to factors that contribute to obesity in adults. Not eating enough fruits and vegetables, consuming high amounts of low-nutrient foods and beverages, and not getting enough physical activity are all behaviors that influence excess weight gain. However, sometimes healthy behaviors are not always easy to implement. It can be difficult for children, parents, and caregivers to make healthy choices and change behaviors when they are exposed to environments that do not support these healthy habits.
Early Care and Education and Obesity Prevention
Fortunately, childhood obesity is preventable through increasing opportunities for kids to be active and eat healthy. Everyone has some responsibility in preventing childhood obesity: families, health care providers, government officials, and community-based organizations. Because eating habits are formed early on and most children spend time in some form of child care during the day, early care education programs have the opportunity to provide the ideal setting needed to establish healthy habits for life.
Below you will find various resources that will help you to create and support an environment that will help your kids develop a foundation of habits to keep them Healthy For Life!
To learn more about Connecticut obesity prevention efforts, please visit the Department of Public Health, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention Program.