As a mom, there is nothing more important to me than raising kids who are happy and healthy. In my role as executive director for the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, I am pleased to tell you that my priorities are the same.
It has been hard to read some of the reports that come across my desk. Obesity among preschoolers ages 2 to 5 has doubled in the past forty years. One in five kids are overweight or obese by their 6th birthday. That’s not the kind of future I want for my kids, and I don’t think it’s the kind of future you want for yours. I want my kids to be strong and healthy.
So what can we do? Keeping our kids healthy is a responsibility we all share – it means taking responsibility at home in the kitchen and the living room, but it also means that we need to keep our child care providers accountable and make sure they have the tools they need to create a healthy environment.
I am pleased and excited to announce Let’s Move! Child Care, a new effort to work with child care and day care providers to help our youngest children get off to a healthy start. After visiting children at CentroNia, a bilingual child care center in Washington, DC, First Lady (and First Mom) Michelle Obama announced a checklist that both providers and parents can use as a tool to ensure that we’re raising the quality for nutrition, physical activity and screen time. We are encouraging child care providers to adopt these goals to help keep our children healthy. The Department of Defense, the General Services Administration and Bright Horizons have already committed to these practices – a step that will positively impact approximately 280,000 children in 1,600 child care centers nationwide.
Here’s the checklist:
- Physical Activity: Provide 1-2 hours of physical activity throughout the day, including outside play when possible.
- Screen Time: No screen time for children under two years. For children age two and older, strive to limit screen time to no more than 30 minutes per week during child care, and work with parents and caregivers to ensure children have no more than 1-2 hours of quality screen time per day, the amount recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Food: Serve fruits or vegetables at every meal, eat meals family-style when possible, and no fried foods.
- Beverages: Provide access to water during meals and throughout the day, and do not serve sugary drinks. For children age two and older, serve low-fat (1%) or non-fat milk, and no more than one 4-6 ounce serving of 100% juice per day.
- Infant feeding: For mothers who want to continue breastfeeding, provide their milk to their infants and welcome them to breastfeed during the child care day; and support all new parents in their decisions about infant feeding.
Let’s Move! Child Care will raise the quality of nutrition, physical activity, and screen time for over 280,000 children. Ending childhood obesity is a responsibility we all share and, working together, we will make a difference. After all, what’s more important than our kids?
Robin Schepper, Executive Director of Let's Move!, is committed to improving the nutrition and physical activity of children. She uses her background in international events, four presidential campaigns, the federal government and local community organizing to bring stakeholders together to develop strategies for the Let's Move! campaign.