What is Certified Healthy Early Childhood Program?

Certified Healthy Early Childhood Program was created in 2014 to accompany six additional Certified Healthy Oklahoma programs: Business, Campus, Community, Congregation, Restaurant, and School. The program is administered by the Oklahoma Turning Point Council and the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Center for the Advancement of Wellness. Certified Healthy Early Childhood Program recognizes early childhood programs that are working to improve the health of children, families, and staff by providing wellness opportunities and implementing policies that lead to healthier lifestyles.

Why Does Certified Healthy Matter?

Becoming a Certified Healthy Early Childhood Program means you are providing a healthy environment for children and families, as well as your staff, along with supporting an overall healthier Oklahoma. By meeting most or all of the criteria to become Certified Healthy, Early Childhood programs provide an established environment to foster behavior modification among children, their families, and program staff, in addition to policy adoption and implementation. It is imperative to establish healthy habits and behaviors in infancy and early childhood, and “health education for children is an investment in a lifetime of good health practices and contributes to a healthier childhood and adult life” (AAP, et al. 2011). By providing an early childhood environment rooted in evidence-based health and wellness principles, you are contributing to future generations of thriving, productive adults. Additionally, staff and adult members of children’s families benefit from effective wellness policies via both direct exposure and information dissemination.

Childhood Overweight and Obesity

Childhood obesity is no laughing matter.

  • In 2011-2012, 22.8% of 2-5 year olds in the United States were overweight or obese, and 8.4% of 2-5 year olds were obese (Ogden, et al. 2014).
  • These figures vary by racial and ethnic groups, as well as “by age, sex, and adult head of household’s and education level” (CDC 2014).
  • The prevalence of obesity is elevated among low income children ages 2-4 when compared to their higher income peers (CDC 2014).
  • We know that obese children are more likely to be obese as adults, which places them at increased risk for “heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis” as they age (CDC 2014).
  • In the United States alone, medical care costs associated with obesity totaled approximately $147 BILLION in 2008 dollars (CDC 2012).

As a reminder, overweight and obese children are more likely to become overweight and obese adults. The change starts with YOU!

Early childhood programs that are Certified Healthy see a return on their investment via healthier children, families, and staff. By contributing to the wellness of those in your establishment, you are helping to create a better, brighter Oklahoma. Early childhood programs that advocate for health are recognized as leaders in the community!


References

American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, and National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education. 2011. Caring for our children: National health and safety performance standards; Guidelines for early care and education programs. 3rd Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; Washington, DC: American Public Health Association. Also available at http://nrckids.org.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. December 2014. Childhood Obesity Facts. Adolescent and School Health. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. September 2014. Childhood Obesity Facts. Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (April 2012). Causes and Consequences. Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/causes/index.html.

Ogden, Cynthia, et al. February 2014. Prevalence of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 311(8): 806-814. Retrieved from http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1832542.