Grundy Center, Iowa Iowa's youth are at risk. Approximately one in three children (31.7 percent) under age 5 is considered overweight or obese, which is slightly higher than the national average of 30.5 percent. A number of factors contribute to this issue, including lack of physical activity and low fruit and vegetable intake.
"Only half of Iowa youth meet current physical activity recommendation levels, but one in four watch three or more hours of television a day," said Nancy Clark, Nutrition and Health Program Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. "As alarming as these self-reported estimates sound, research from the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests an even grimmer picture. Youth 8-14 years old are using media ? including television, computers, video games and music 6-9 hours per day, but total media exposure is approximately 8-12 hours per day, because of the ability to multi-task."
Further, only 14 percent of Iowa youth eat vegetables more than three times a day (excluding French fries and potato chips), 20 percent eat fruit more than three times a day, but almost one third drink at least one non-diet soda each day. Research has shown that less than 10 percent of youth meet recommendations for fat, fruit and vegetable intake, Clark said.
"These trends demonstrate the need to foster healthier nutrition and physical activity behaviors among our youth. Ideally, these behaviors need to begin early during their preschool years. Research suggests some health behaviors can be established before the child begins school and the child care setting can play an important and influential role," Clark added.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offers child care provider training, which has been approved by the Department of Human Services. The training helps providers identify, recognize and implement best practices relative to nutrition, physical activity, health and safety for children under their care. Training offered includes:
o Don't Give Kids a Tummy Ache (food safety)
o Who Leads, Who Follows (division of responsibility between provider and child)
o Color Me Healthy (rainbow of fruits and vegetables)
o Spend Smart and Eat Smart in Childcare Settings (cost-effective, healthy eating)
o Healthy Meals in a Hurry (nutrition for infants and preschool children)
o Just a Bite (managing food allergies)
o Actions Speak Louder than Words (role modeling in childcare settings)
Extension Nutrition and Health Program Specialist Nancy Clark will be hosting Healthy Meals in a Hurry May 8 from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Grundy Center Community Center. Child care providers will learn practical strategies and skills to provide a healthy environment for the children in their care. There is a cost and participants will take home a cream soup mix. Register by May 1 on the DHS Training Registry or call 319-824-6979 for more information or to register.