Starting Good Nutrition and Exercise Early
Obesity is now recognized as a major health problem in the United States for both adults and children, with significant disparities by socio-economic status and race/ethnicity.
A Unique Opportunity to Promote Healthy Lifestyles
While there has been a great deal of attention paid to childhood obesity, many of the policy responses have been in the school-aged years. However, infants and toddlers develop their eating patterns and learn what foods they enjoy. They also develop exercise patterns that set the course for the rest of their life.
The federal Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program provides nutritional counseling for low-income pregnant women and infants and toddlers up to age five, with promotion of breastfeeding and its benefits. States and communities are only beginning to develop further strategies to support healthy nutrition and exercise in the pre-school years. BUILD Initiative and other research suggests that this is a promising time to ensure that children develop healthy eating and exercise activities which will stay with them throughout life. This will reduce the prevalence of obesity and its health consequences.