A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that obesity was often established by age 5, and nearly half of those kids who became obese by the eighth grade were already overweight when they started kindergarten.
Researchers agree that the strongest window of opportunity for obesity prevention is during those critical first five years.
Research has also shown that access to high-quality early education during those critical years is key to bridging the growing achievement gap.
With child care enrollment at an all-time high in the United States, providers not only have an obligation to lay the foundation for later academic proficiency, but also to help promote the establishment of wellness awareness and healthy habits.
In fact, programs providing care for children from birth through age five -- especially those providing meals and snacks -- represent the single most influential point for changing the current devastating obesity trends.
Fortunately for those of us committed to this field, it is far simpler to establish good habits than to break bad habits that have already been formed. Children are born curious; it is important to instill the same curiosity around food that they have about everything else in their environment.
Where did it come from?
In what season did it grow?
How did it grow?
In a health-conscious community like ours, there are programs like NBCC's Garden of Eatin' where curiosity-inspiring garden activities are woven into the daily curriculum for children as young as six weeks, creating the awareness among children that learning about what they eat is as important as knowing their letters and numbers.