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Early Care and Education (ECE) to Address Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity in the United States is a serious issue. For children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years, obesity rates are about 17 percent, or about 12.7 million children and adolescents – including a prevalence of 8.9 percent among 2- to 5-year-olds. Childhood obesity disproportionally affects children from low-income families.

Childhood obesity is a complicated topic with many causes – much like adult obesity. For children, there are immediate health risks and long-term health risks. Children with obesity are more likely to have:

  • High blood pressure and cholesterol, both of which are risk factors for cardio vascular disease
  • Increased risk of glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and Type 2 diabetes
  • Asthma, sleep apnea, and other breathing difficulties
  • Joint problems
  • Low self-esteem and a greater risk of depression and anxiety
  • Social problems due to stigma and bullying

Children who are obese are more like to become adults who are obese, and their obesity and disease risk factors in adulthood are likely to be more severe.

In order to combat obesity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is creating a framework for obesity prevention in the early care and education (ECE) settings. Most young children, ages 3-5, spend time in a non-parental care arrangement on a weekly basis. They are in daycare, pre-K, or kindergarten settings. These settings can be an important place to teach the fundamentals of nutrition, physical activity, and screen time limits.

Childhood Obesity Month 2018 on Biteable.

The Spectrum of Opportunity

The focus of the framework from the CDC is on system-level changes so that state-wide impact can be made. Successful efforts require strong partnerships from the ECE arena and the public health sector, as well as factors that include, but are not limited to, costs, stakeholder support and political will, reach, timing, and ECE provider needs.

The key points in the Spectrum of Opportunity Framework are:

  • Nine (9) entry points for embedding standards and implementation support into the state ECE system
  • Making changes at the state ECE-system level
  • Strong partnerships among diverse stakeholders
  • Equity goals that not only include but exceed opportunities beyond low-income populations
  • Mapping interrelationships among opportunities in order to inform decisions
  • Recognition that there is more than one way to approach making system level changes
  • Creating a coordinated approach to take advantage of the interconnected of multiple opportunities

For more information about the Spectrum of Opportunities Framework, see the ECE 2018 Quick Start Action Guide PDF.

Pocket Nurse will be looking more at obesity in America, and how to address it in healthcare education through simulation scenarios in a white paper coming out next week.

CDC, Obesity Strategies, Childcare ECE

 

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