State health department issues ‘call for action’ to fight childhood obesity, seeks help from child-care providers

The state Department for Public Health has issued a “call for action” to fight childhood obesity, a long-term health burden in which Kentucky continually ranks in the top 10 among states, and currently first among high-school students.

The department’s obesity-prevention program and the Partnership for a Fit Kentucky are encouraging early-child-care providers, education professionals, parents and health advocates to help battle obesity through training, family engagement, and aligning policies to meet or exceed best practices. For the full call to action, click here.

“It’s no secret that childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in this country, and many young people are already overweight by the time they enter elementary school,” Health Commissioner Stephanie Mayfield said.

Kentucky has 2,925 licensed child-care centers, licensed child-care homes or certified homes, so “The opportunity exists for these Kentucky centers to help reverse the growing childhood obesity epidemic,” said Elaine Russell, coordinator of the agency’s obesity prevention program. “These facilities offer a spectrum of opportunities for policy changes to directly address healthy foods and beverages, screen time limits, physical activity, breast-feeding support for Kentucky’s children.”

Supporting and educating families will be important for the success of an obesity-prevention project funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Four thousand children in Boone, Campbell, Fayette, Jefferson and Kenton Counties are expected to benefit from the program the first year, and in 2015, 100 other early-care and education programs in other parts of the state will participate.

“We are all facing an epic battle against some of the highest levels of obesity and chronic disease in the country,” Russell said. “If we don’t act, we will be ignoring our responsibility to provide the foundation for a brighter, healthier state for future generations of Kentuckians.”

The department is asking that those caring for young children join the call to action by going to the partnership’s webpage or by emailing Rebekah.Duchette@ky.gov.

Kentucky is hosting the Southern Obesity Summit Oct. 5-7 in Louisville. For a story on it by Darla Carter of The Courier-Journal, click here.

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