Updated March 13, 2017
When children are healthy during the first years of life, they are more likely to maintain a healthy weight throughout their childhood, be successful in school, and achieve lifelong health. In Texas, about one million young kids learn, play, and grow in licensed or regulated child care programs. Families know that child care programs are key partners in reinforcing positive habits and ensuring children get the benefits of healthy foods and active play time to build their minds and muscles.
About one in four children age two to five is overweight or obese. And children who are overweight or obese as preschoolers are five times more likely to be overweight or obese as adults. Ensuring our youngest children have opportunities to eat nutritious foods, stay active, and develop healthy habits reduces health care costs by preventing expensive chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke, and asthma.
Parents know their children deserve the benefits of interactive activities that promote brain and physical development, such as talking, playing, running, jumping, and reading together in order to develop their minds and muscles. Being physically active and having a healthy diet before the age of five is associated with improved child development and cognitive outcomes. Research shows that young kids that eat a healthy diet – high in lean protein and fresh fruits and vegetables – are more likely to have a higher IQ at age eight. Additionally, research has shown that as the amount of television young children watch increases, so does the likelihood they will have a poor quality diet and risk for obesity.