Early Childhood Education Centers

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Early Care and Education Centers

  • One in five children in the United States between the ages of 2 and 5 is overweight or obese.
  • Efforts to prevent obesity and improve health must target our youngest children and their families. 
  • Because many young children spend time in care outside of the home, Early Childhood Education (ECE) centers are a good setting in which to promote messages about nutrition and physical activity.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), incorporating appropriate health and nutrition messages within the ECE environment may directly impact what children eat, how active they are, and the development of lifelong healthy habits.

As an ECE owner, director or staff member, what can I do to improve the nutrition and physical activity environment of my center? 

With the proper tools, programs and policies, you can have a positive impact on children’s health and help prevent childhood obesity by focusing on these five goals areas:

  • Physical Activity
  • Screen Time
  • Food
  • Beverages
  • Infant Feeding

 For additional information on childhood obesity prevention strategies in the ECE setting, visit Caring for Our Children, National Health and Safety Performance Standards.

What state and/or national programs are available to support my efforts?

Keystone Kids Go! is a Pennsylvania initiative targeted towards early childhood practitioners from childcare, Head Start, early intervention, family literacy and pre-kindergarten programs.

Pennsylvania Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care is an online continuous quality improvement intervention designed to help child care providers improve nutrition and physical activity practices.

Let’s Move Child Care is a national initiative dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity and helping kids create a healthy future.

Better Kid Care is an on-demand distance education system providing professional development online, including lessons related to the national Let’s Move! campaign.

Additional resources:

Pennsylvania Early Learning Keys to Quality

Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Network

Early Childhood Education Linkage System (ECELS)