As the number of children with obesity and weight-related health problems rises, Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) cosponsored legislation this week to help kids develop healthy habits that will serve them well into adulthood. The Healthy Kids from Day One Act, which was introduced by Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.), would help childcare centers develop programs to get our youngest kids more physically active, eat healthier and spend less time sitting in front of digital screens.
"With nearly one-third of American children vulnerable to diabetes, heart disease, disability, stroke, and other chronic conditions due to obesity, it is imperative that we do more as a society to encourage healthy lifestyles from an early age," Senator Carper said. "We all have a role to play in improving health outcomes for future generations by encouraging healthy eating and active lifestyles, and the Healthy Kids from Day One Act helps child-care centers teach our children life-saving habits that can lead to healthier lives. However it's not just up to child-care centers -- parents, businesses, policymakers, educators, and health officials are all key partners in the effort to educate our children about the importance of exercise and good nutrition. By working together, we can strengthen our children's futures, save lives, and reduce healthcare costs in the long run. I thank Senator Mark Udall for leading this call as well as Delaware's own Nemours Foundation for its role in pioneering this initiative. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this important bill forward."
"As a nation, we take pride in investing in our children's education, but equally as important -- and too often overlooked -- is the need to invest in our children's health," Senator Coons said. "Cultivating healthy lifestyles in America's youth is most effective when we start teaching them how to live those lifestyles early in life. The Healthy Kids from Day One Act does just that. By having trained professionals reaching young children in their formative years and in a variety of daily settings, we will help reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity and raise a healthier generation of Americans."
One in three kids is either overweight or obese -- a remarkable increase from the 4 percent of children in the 1960s and leading to increased frequency of weight-related health issues, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Key elements of the Healthy Kids from Day One Act include:
Pilot Program: The legislation would create a three-year pilot program in five states to support childcare collaboratives that focus on combating obesity among our youngest children. These collaboratives will work to do the following in childcare settings:
Promote physical activity.
Create healthier eating environments.
Limit the amount of time children spend in front of the TV or other digital screens.
Promote parental engagement.
Training: The collaboratives bring child-care providers together in structured learning sessions to share strategies and techniques to improve healthy eating and physical activity of children in child-care settings.
Finding Out What Works: Upon completion of the pilot, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) will use consistent metrics to evaluate the program and report back to Congress. Best practices will be identified, disseminated and encouraged in other existing federal programs.
Federal Coordination: HHS will ensure this pilot coordinates activities with the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council. This will minimize the duplication of resources and eliminate the need for a new government entity for this program.
The legislation is also co-sponsored by Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Tom Udall (D-NM).