Healthy People 2020 Objectives include the growing acknowledgment in the areas of research, clinical practice and policy that the early and middle years of childhood make provision of the “physical, cognitive, and social-emotional foundation for lifelong health, learning and well-being.” (p.1) Healthy nutrition is among the goals of Healthy People 2020 and included in these nutrition goals are consumption of various foods that are nutrient-dense across all the groups of foods particularly those of fruits, vegetable, whole grains, low-fat/fat-free milk and lean meats as well as other sources of protein. (Healthy People 2020, paraphrased) It is reported within the Healthy People 2020 objectives that all individuals should avoid gaining weight that constitutes an unhealthy gain of weight. The reasons that are given for avoiding unhealthy weight gain includes that people who are of a healthy weight are less likely to develop chronic disease including heart disease, osteoarthritis, some cancers and type 2 diabetes. The Healthy People 2020 information reports that there are social factors believed to affect the diet of the individual including those stated as follows:
(1) Knowledge and attitudes;
(3) Social Support
(4) Societal and cultural norms
(5) Food and agricultural policies;
(6) Food assistance programs; and (7) Economic price systems. (Healthy People 2020)
Despite the need of a healthy nutrition, it is reported that there has been a dramatic increase in cases of childhood obesity in the United States with approximately ten percent of children ages four and five-year of age being overweight. (New York State Department of Health, 2012, paraphrased) Reasons for children being overweight include lack of exercise and lack of a healthy diet. Responsibilities of parents to ensure their child does not become overweight include the need to have good health as a goal rather than a specific goal for weight in teaching their children through role modeling utilizing “healthy and positive attitudes towards food and physical activity” without having the child’s body weight as the focus. (New York State Department of Health, 2012, paraphrased) The entire family’s nutritional health should be at focus rather than singling out the children who are overweight. Parents should also set specific times for the family’s meals and snacks and should ensure that the entire family eats together whenever it is possible making a broad range of food types available to the family. Parents should ensure that the meal planning sets out portions that are logical and the Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children should be used as a guide for healthy nutrition. (New York State Department of Health, 2012, paraphrased) Also reported is that children should be discouraged from taking their meals in front of the television because when an individual is caught up in a television show they do not recognize their body’s signals about being full and the result is that the individual overeats. Parents should purchase foods that are high-nutrient and low in calories and should teach their children that some foods including candy, cake, and other high-fat foods are not to be eaten every day. It is wise to include children in the meal-planning and food-shopping process as well as in meal preparation so that children can be taught about proper nutrition in a hands-on approach that will assist their understanding about proper nutrition.
Recommendations for implementation of the information reviewed in this study include the following stated recommendations: (1) Parents should involve children in the meal planning process through reviewing the nutritional status and calories in food served at the family meal; (2) Asking children to label foods with place cards at the family dinner table is a creative method of teaching children about the nutritional value of foods; and (3) When children want to eat sweets such as candy or cookies, ask the children to compare the nutritional value of these items to foods served at the family meal. Each of these recommendations is such that will assist children in learning about food nutrition and in the prevention of their developing obesity during childhood.
Nutrition and Weight Status (2014) Healthy People 2020. Retrieved from: http://healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/overview.aspx?topicid=29
Preventing Childhood Obesity: Tips for Parents (2012) New York State Department of Public Health. Retrieved from: https://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/nutrition/resources/obparnts.htm
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