iVillage.com: The Biggest Health Trends of 2013

Programs for Preventing and Treating Childhood Obesity Aimed At Kids Ages 5 And Under

Thanks in large part to Michele Obama’s ‘Let’s Move!’ campaign, school-aged children are being exposed to programs and services focused on nutrition and exercise. But that may not be enough. “The best window of opportunity to beat obesity may be before children ever even enter school. It’s a conclusion that’s gaining acceptance among health experts, including the Institute of Medicine and the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity,” says Julie Boman, M.D., a pediatrician at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Obesity may be the greatest public health threat of our time, and early intervention in a child’s first few years should complement the programs aimed at older kids (ages 5 and up) currently in place.

“Our best chance of defeating obesity is by preventing it in the first place and I expect we will continue to see more obesity prevention and wellness campaigns planned and implemented through a multi-tiered approach that starts with pregnancy,” says Dr. Boman, who expects we’ll see messaging focused on helping entire families develop healthy eating and lifestyle habits in the coming year. “There are a number of great national resources available, such as Let’s Go and the American Academy of Pediatrics, but parents should also use their local resources and learn to be advocates for their kids’ health from pregnancy, through early childhood and school years. Pediatric and other primary care providers and schools are excellent resources for parents and expecting parents, as are local YMCA and YWCA chapters, local parks and recreation, and community education centers,” she says.

(CREDIT: Martin Barraud/OJO Images/Getty Images)
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