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Early Childhood Program

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 State Department of Health, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. 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 important to teach children about healthy habits and behaviors in infancy and early childhood1. 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.

  • The national obesity rate among 2- to 5-year-olds is 13.9%2.
  • As in adults, youth obesity has been generally increasing over time, but the 2015-2016 youth prevalence was not significantly higher than the 2013-2014 prevalence2.
  • Non-Hispanic black and Hispanic youth suffer higher rates of obesity than other race and Hispanic-origin youth groups2.
  • Childhood obesity is more prevalent in households with lower levels of education3.
  • In 2014, obesity prevalence among 2-4 years old children enrolled in WIC in the U.S. was 14.5%4.
  • We know that obese children are more likely to be obese as adults5, which places them at increased risk for coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, mental illness (e.g., depression, anxiety) and osteoarthritis6.

It is estimated that obesity costs the U.S. at least $147 billion per year7. 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!


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, and National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education. Caring for our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards; Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs. 4th Edition. Itasca, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2019. Available at
  2. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Data Brief No. 288 October 2017. Prevalence of Obesity among Adults and Youth: United States, 2015-2016. Available at
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Prevalence of Obesity among Youths by Household Income and Education Level of Head of Household-United States 2011-2014. Available at
  4. CDC. Childhood Obesity Facts. 2014. Available at
  5. World Health Organization (WHO). Childhood Overweight and Obesity. Available at
  6. CDC. Adult Obesity Causes and Consequences. Available at
  7. The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America. The Healthcare Costs of Obesity. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Available at