USDA believes in giving children a foundation for life-long health through access to healthy food and quality nutrition education. So, that’s why we are encouraged by a couple of recent studies that indicate that the rates of obesity among young children are declining. One study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that rates of obesity among young children ages 2-5 years have declined in the last decade, while another found that obesity is declining in low-income preschoolers in 19 states. These results suggest that we are making progress in our efforts to improve the health of our next generation! These findings were noted by Dr. Bill Dietz, former Director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity during his presentation at the 3rd meeting of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on March 14, 2014.
Efforts to turn the tide of obesity, both within the Federal government and in communities across the country, are having an impact in the preschool population. The USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services programs are an important part of these efforts. Through the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, USDA is making critical changes to the foods available to children – even the picky eaters.
The WIC program provides low-income women and children access to healthy food through the WIC food package, along with information on healthy eating through educational programs and nutrition counseling. The Child and Adult Care Food Program serves 3.3 million U.S. children in child care by providing nutritious foods and encouraging physical activity, both of which contribute to their health and wellness.
USDA is also proud to partner with the First Lady and her Let’s Move initiative to ensure that our youngest children live and learn in environments where healthy habits are the norm instead of the exception. More than 10,000 child care centers across the country are benefiting from the Let’s Move Child Care program. USDA has been a major contributor to the Let’s Move Child Care Resource Center, providing easy-to-use resources and practical tips about healthy eating and physical activity to inspire parents and caregivers who are working with young children.
We still have more work to do – the childhood obesity epidemic remains a major concern. Even with the decline in rates, 1 out of 12 preschoolers in the U.S. are obese. And, obesity in these early years of life can set the stage for serious health problems in the future.
The strides that have been made toward reducing obesity and improving the health of America’s next generation, is something that all Americans should be proud of, and we at USDA look forward to continuing to serve as a leader in the fight to end hunger and obesity. Learn more about USDA’s efforts to improve child nutrition or visit ChooseMyPlate.gov.