Building a Culture of Health for Our Nation’s Children
Today in America, even our youngest are suffering from a health crisis. While there has been some recent progress in reducing early childhood obesity, slightly over 20% of children aged 2-5 are still overweight or obese1. Consider that children who are obese at age 6 are also more likely to be obese as adults.1
Many have initiated efforts to build a culture of health for our youngest generation including Let’s Move, the Partnership for a Healthier America and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — and we recognize that we must all play a role. Identifying challenges, solutions and successes in early childhood obesity prevention and overweight management will be pivotal in supporting the long-term health of our youth.
In its assessment of preventing early childhood obesity, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) confirmed the powerful role parents play in shaping their children’s eating and physical activity habits (2011).1 However, this work involves more than just parents: sustainable solutions to our obesity and chronic disease issues will require help from industry, government, non-profits and health professionals, too. It is key to provide support and healthy eating education for parents and family members in parenting roles.
At Dannon, we want to help parents make informed decisions and model healthy behaviors for their young children. We also understand the growing demand from health professionals and policy makers for deeper knowledge and a research base on the health and nutrition needs of younger children.
To help support these efforts, we recently announced our commitment to the Partnership for a Healthier America to reduce the amount of total sugar in 100% of our children’s products for children to 23 grams or less (per 6 oz. serving). This level was first established by the Institute of Medicine in its 2007 report on Competitive Foods in Schools and is consistent with the uniform nutrition criteria recently implemented by the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative.
In addition, we applaud the fact that the USDA has responded to the 2007 IOM report recommendations by expanding the offering of healthy foods in most of the Women Infant and Children (WIC) program food packages by including yogurt, in particular.
While the knowledge base to create Birth to 24 Months Dietary Guidance (B-24 Project) and dietary guidance for preschool aged children is still developing, we believe we can all take small steps to help support parent education, training and resources for the health and nutrition needs of our youngest children. Building healthy eating behaviors and activity patterns starts young, and our youngest children need all of us working together to help support their parents and role models. That is why Dannon was pleased to provide education grants to help develop The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation’s new MyPlate nutrition guide for Health Professionals and Parents. The new toolkits aim to provide professionals with practical suggestions for using MyPlate and tips for parents to build and model healthy eating habits.
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will convene on July 17-18, 2014 to continue discussing their recommendations for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. Expected topics include dietary patterns, health outcomes, and food and nutrient intakes. Members of the public may register to attend the meeting via webcast and access recordings, summaries, and materials from previous meetings by visiting this link.
Food and nutrition experts, including Dr. Bob Murray, spoke to members of Congress on June 12 regarding health disparities and how the Dietary Guidelines can improve overall diet quality. During his remarks, Dr. Murray emphasized the importance of developing flexible government policies, expanding access to nutrient rich packages such as WIC’s inclusion of yogurt, and making school meals healthier.