Another kind of deficit concern

by Stephanie Brown

An important report was released this week about nutrition, fitness and the nation’s children. While the nation’s attention has been fixated on budget deficit negotiations, it’s easy to see why the Child Trends policy report authored by David Murphey, Bonnie Mackintosh and Marci McCoy-Roth received less play. But the potential implications are just as great.

    • Delayed development
    • Lower level of school readiness
    • Higher incidence of disease (e.g. diabetes, heart disease)
    • Increased health care costs to treat and manage them
    • Reduced adult productivity 
    • Reduced life-expectancy

Insufficient food

      Almost ten million children are known as “food insecure”—they struggle to get enough to eat daily.

Food-insecure children don’t progress as far in math and reading, and have a higher likelihood of repeating a grade between kindergarten and third grade.

Skipping meals and snacking
More than one in eight children rarely/never eat breakfast; one in four skip dinner. Skipping meals has serious negative effects on learning. 

25 percent of children snack after dinner. Snacking, especially typical nutrient-poor snacks, is linked to obesity. 

Household routines/screen time
A recent large study found that positive household routines (regular mealtimes, sleep, limited screen time) may be obesity-prevention strategies. Preschoolers whose families reported such habits were 40 percent less likely to be obese. 

A myriad of nutrition assistance programs (SNAP, National School Lunch Program, WIC) exist to support food-insecure households. How much better would it be to build healthy habits from birth through positive role modeling?

Parents as Teachers builds powerful role models.
They’re called parents

Want to help parents learn to support the health and fitness of their preschool age children? Knowledge Studio

Stephanie Brown is a graduate of Maryville University and an intern at Parents as Teachers.