A new report released Thursday by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) contains a list of recommendations to help parents fight childhood obesity, an affliction that affects one in five American 2- to-5-year-olds. Among the recommendations:
- Help preschool and daycare providers foster physical activity throughout the day.
- Limit television viewing time to less than 30 minutes a day to decrease sedentary time and promote more active play.
- Support exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.
- Have the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture establish nutritional guidelines--similar to the food pyramid--for ages birth through two years.
- Train preschool and daycare providers to present young children with age-appropriate portion sizes at meals and snacks.
- Maximize participation in federally-funded nutritional assistance program so all families can have access to healthy foods.
- Provide training and education for caregivers in fostering healthy sleep habits.
The report is unusual on its focus on younger children, but researchers say early intervention is the smartest approach to staving off the growing problem. "It's a huge opportunity to instill good habits at a time when you don't have to change old ones," Leann Birch, director of Pennsylvania State University's Center for Childhood Obesity Research, who chaired the IOM panel, told The Associated Press.
(image via: http://www.denbydalenursery.org.uk)