Childhood obesity is a serious problem in this country. Health care experts have observed that children are showing signs of obesity at an increasingly younger age, with some studies indicating that one in three children under the age of five as being obese or overweight.
Childhood Obesity Sets Up a Lifetime of Health Problems
When a child becomes obese at an early age, it can lead to a lifetime of weight problems. Dietary habits learned at an early age can greatly influence their consumption patterns into adulthood, as well as the numerous health related issues that are linked to obesity. These include heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Furthermore, being overweight, especially at a young age, can have serious emotional and psychological consequences.
Due to the seriousness of this problem, healthcare experts encourage parents to provide a wholesome diet for their children and make sure that they lead healthy lifestyles. While this may seem like a reasonable goal at home, the reality is that with the rigorous demands of simply making ends meet, many young children are spending increasing amounts of time away from parental oversight and under the watch of professional caregivers.
Healthy Childcare Sets Good Habits
Childcare facilities therefore represent an ideal setting to establish healthy eating habits in young children and help stem the tide of obesity. Regulation of childcare facilities is carried out by each individual state, which is also responsible for monitoring compliance by way of minimum enforcement standards. However, a recent study has found that there is a difference of opinion between state regulators and public health experts, which include the American Dietetic Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Public Health Association.
Consequently, the responsibility falls on the parents to be advocates for their children, even when they are not there in person. With this in mind, here are some helpful tips to help moms and dads ensure the health and welfare of their children during their time with a professional caregiver.
- Communicate with your caregivers. It doesn't have to be adversarial; parents can work in harmony with their children's caregivers. Get to know the people who are watching over your kids. Make the effort to find out what sorts of foods and activities are being provided, and don't hesitate to voice your concerns.
- Communicate with your children. Talk to them every day and find out what their day was like while you were away from them and ask if there are any problems. This will not only keep parents abreast of the situation, but is a good way to promote communication with your kids and let them know that you care.
- Promote good health home. Good habits begin early, whether they involve eating, exercise, or good manners. What foods are offered by parents can help to establish awareness of good nutrition, which can go a long way in encouraging good dietary choices when you are not there to enforce them.
- Set a good example. There is no question that children follow in the footsteps of their moms and dads, and children who see their parents embracing unhealthy habits are more likely to engage in them themselves.
- Provide your own snacks. If you are concerned about what your children eat, and feel that it is not within your power to oversee what other people are feeding them, then provide them with snacks you feel are up to your own standards.
- Work with other like-minded parents. Two things that every parent has in common is that they love their children and wants what is best for them. When there is a need for action, remember that there is strength in numbers, and opinions voiced by a group are more effective than a single voice.
In the end, the responsibility for your child's health and welfare is a full-time job. Your role as a parent is to always be involved, both directly and indirectly, and it doesn't end when you drop them off at your daycare facility.
To learn more about childhood nutrition, talk to your pediatrician or visit the website for Kid's Health. To find out about regulations regarding childcare in your state, contact your state government.