Governor Lincoln D. Chafee announced today that Rhode Island has been recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Child Care Initiative for its exceptional work in promoting young children's health and preventing childhood obesity. The recognition is a result of the state's collaborative, multi-agency effort led by the Initiative for a Healthy Weight, a program of the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH). Rhode Island won the Let's Move! Child Care state challenge for encouraging the highest percentage of licensed or legally operating early education child programs to register as Let's Move! Child Care participants. The Initiative for a Healthy Weight program was honored today at the Let's Move! Child Care Recognition Luncheon in Washington, D.C.
"This award is a great example of the significant strides that can be made when our state's leaders work together toward a common goal," said Governor Chafee. "This distinction speaks to the power of collaboration in building a stronger Rhode Island, beginning with the health and wellness of our youngest citizens and their families."
Rhode Island was honored for carrying out exceptional work to promote and implement the goals of Let's Move! Child Care, including using creative strategies, engaging families in obesity prevention efforts, and overcoming challenges to get children moving and encourage healthy eating in the early care and education setting. HEALTH led the collaborative effort with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), BrightStars, and early education providers and stakeholders.
"We are thrilled to win the state challenge, but more importantly, to connect childcare providers to the resources necessary to promote healthy habits in centers and homes throughout Rhode Island," said Michael Fine, M.D., director of HEALTH. "Early care and education settings represent a critical -- and largely untapped -- opportunity for obesity prevention efforts. This program, along with our state's childhood and adolescent vaccination rates, is another example of how Rhode Island is leading at the national level."
Let's Move! Child Care is a nationwide call-to-action to empower early education and child care programs to make positive health changes in children that could last a lifetime. The initiative focuses on five goals:
Physical Activity: Provide one to two hours of physical activity throughout the day, including outside play when possible
Screen Time: No screen time for children less than two years old. For children ages two and older, strive to limit screen time to no more than 30 minutes per week during child care, and work with parents and caregivers to ensure children have no more than one to two hours of quality screen time per day, the amount recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics
Food: Serve fruits or vegetables at every meal, eat meals family style when possible and avoid fried foods
Beverages: Provide access to water during meals and throughout the day, and do not serve sugary drinks. For children ages two and older, serve low-fat (1%) or non-fat milk, and no more than one 4- to 6-ounce serving of 100 percent juice per day
Infant feeding: For mothers who want to continue breastfeeding, provide their milk to their infants and welcome them to breastfeed during the child care day.
In 2010, HEALTH formed the Obesity Prevention in Early Education Steering Committee -- a stakeholder group of child care experts -- to outline policy and systems changes necessary to create healthy environments for Rhode Island children. In Rhode Island, more than 30 percent of children entering kindergarten are overweight or obese. Approximately 35 percent of Rhode Island's low-income children between the ages of two to five are overweight or obese -- higher than the national average of 32 percent.
With thousands of Rhode Island children cared for outside of their homes, early care and education settings are ideal for promoting healthy eating and physical activity. HEALTH partnered with the Department of Human Services and BrightStars in October 2011 for the annual Early Childhood Conference to launch the Eat Smart Move More Rhode Island Early Care and Education Action Plan 2011.
For more information about Rhode Island's Initiative for a Healthy Weight program, visit www.health.ri.gov/healthyweight