First Lady Column on Early Childhood
From sonograms to first steps to the first day of school, we know that building a healthy future for a child begins in the earliest days – even before birth. So as we started Let’s Move! and began our efforts to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in a generation, we put an emphasis on early childhood health during our first year. With health issues appearing earlier and earlier – one in five children is overweight or obese by the time they’re 6 years old, and more than half of obese children are overweight before their second birthday – we knew there wasn’t a moment to waste.
So we went to work, supporting expectant mothers and emphasizing the importance of proper weight gain during pregnancy. We’ve promoted prenatal care and breastfeeding—a critical component in infant health—and provided support for millions of new moms through the Affordable Care Act.
As these infants grow up, we know that the nutrition and healthy habits they learn at an early age are crucial to their development, so we teamed up with child care experts and health care professionals to announce new national standards for nutrition, physical activity, and screen time to support healthy day cares and preschools. And many others have gotten involved, from Head Start building and improving hundreds of new playgrounds to health care providers writing prescriptions for healthy habits and committing to measure BMI during every child’s checkup.
We’ve made some real progress, but we know that our work is far from over. As we enter our second year, we’re going to need to lean on even more doctors, more moms and dads, and more child care providers for their advice and their participation. Because I know that it’s only with the help and support of Americans across the country that we can tackle this problem for good and give our children the bright, healthy futures they deserve.
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