Could cookies, milk and sandbox play give way to a regime of veggie sticks and jumping jacks?
Paige Parker of the Oregonian notes that food and exercise regimes may be the last thing on the minds of parents looking for day care. But perhaps they shouldn’t be. One third of 2- to 5-year-olds enrolled in a state nutrition program in Oregon are overweight or obese in a state where about 53 percent of children younger than 5 are in child care settings, Parker reports.
Oregon officials have come to believe they can reduce obesity rates by targeting the way children eat and exercise outside of their own homes. A statewide obesity prevention task force is recommending the upcoming Legislature require state agencies to develop standards for healthy eating, along with the amount of time spent engaged in physical activity or in front of a screen while in child care settings.
Part of their thinking may have been influenced by a study of South Carolina children that found kids in child care settings were sedentary, on average, for 42 minutes of every hour.
They engaged in a little less than eight minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each hour — the equivalent of one hour of heart thumping activity for an eight-hour day, says Stewart Trost, one of the study’s authors and now an Oregon State University professor.
Nationally, 26 percent of children that age are overweight or at risk of being overweight, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2006. So it is worthwhile finding out if any other states will follow Oregon’s example. Journalists have been on top of the trend of public schools providing healthier lunches for students in elementary schools and beyond, but are any other states trying to put their youngest charges on a diet?