BY AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

Child playing in a daycare

New nutrition and physical activity standards for licensed child-care centers in Colorado are hoping to break bad habits early by limiting screen time and requiring no sugary drinks be served to children.

The rules, which will affect more than 100,000 children in 1,350 early care facilities, also bolster physical activity requirements.

Colorado’s adults are the leanest in the nation, but its kids fall in the middle of the pack, with nearly 25 percent overweight or obese, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.

Under the rules adopted by the Colorado Department of Human Services, meals and snacks must meet U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition requirements.

Licensed centers can serve no sugary drinks and also are limited to serving 100 percent juice only twice a week. Full-day centers must provide 60 minutes of physical activity a day, while part-time centers will mandate 30 minutes a day. In addition, TV time will be capped at 30 minutes a week and computer and tablet time will be limited to 30 minutes a day. Media devices will be prohibited during snack or meal time.

“Going above national standards, we are pleased to see Colorado setting limits on sugary drinks provided to children. All facilities will provide children with water and low-fat milk as a key strategy to help kids’ hearts grow up strong and healthy,” said Jill Birnbaum, executive director of Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Heart Association.

The rules will go into effect in February.