By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

News-Healthy Kids_Blog

The American Heart Association, Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Nemours Children’s Health System announced Tuesday the launch of an early childhood wellness initiative, with an initial focus on children from birth to age 5.

Pointing to the statistic that one in three U.S. children is obese, the AHA said it is trying to help kids build healthy habits early on, with help from parents and caregivers.

“The opportunity to preserve ideal cardiovascular health may begin before birth but should be pursued in earnest from birth to 5 years of age,” said Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., AHA’s chief medical officer for prevention. “Because young children depend entirely on caregivers and parents, the only way to promote and preserve good health in children is for caregivers and parents to be engaged.”

The initiative will educate families and teachers by providing in-person and online resources to support early care and education programs in creating wellness policies. The three organizations will also support state policy efforts to help achieve healthy outcomes for children in local communities and work with the food and beverage industry to create agreements to ensure healthy options to early care and education programs.

“We know that one of the most effective ways to create a healthier generation is to create healthier environments where kids live, learn and play,” Howell Wechsler, Ed.D., CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, said in a statement.

The AHA co-founded the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in May. Nemours and the AHA initially joined in 2013 to form Healthy Way to Grow, a program to support healthy eating and physical activity in early care and education centers. The new initiative will help expand that program.