EATON — Eaton Day Care recently earned the designation of an Ohio Healthy Program (OHP), whose goals are to help kids eat well and move more to improve learning and prevent childhood obesity. To earn this designation, a center must complete 4 steps to their application.
The center’s staff must attend 15 hours of training in the Healthy Children, Healthy Weights curriculum. The center will revise their meal and snack menus to provide plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk, while limiting juice and fried foods. An OHP center will implement healthy practice policies that improve services. And finally, parent engagement to share healthy food and activity goals will be implemented.
The Ohio Healthy Program was created in 2010 by Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association (OCCRRA) in collaboration with Columbus Public Health’s Healthy Children, Healthy Weights program through funding from the Ohio Department of Health’s Office of Healthy Ohio. The program is in response to the increasing number of overweight children. In 2013, 30.9 percent of 2-5 year-olds in Preble County were overweight or obese. In Ohio more than 1 in 3 third graders were at an unhealthy weight, according to data from 2004-2010. Nutrition and activity habits begin at the youngest of ages. It is the goal of Ohio Healthy Programs to promote a “healthy weight environment” for all children. Such an environment includes healthy eating habits and nutrition, healthy physical activity, healthy drinks, and healthy weights and body images.
As stated in an issue brief, “The Impact of the First 1,000 Days on Childhood Obesity” (March 2016) from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Eating Research, “programs and efforts focusing on multiple risk factors and delivered at multiple levels (individual, family, and community) through various sectors (health care, industry and policy) may help reduce childhood obesity risk. Ohio Healthy Programs are an example of one such intervention targeting those children in center- based care.
Karen Charles, Eaton Day Care’s Administrator, says the training that her staff received from the local health department to become an Ohio Healthy Program was excellent information on nutrition, growing food, keeping children active, and encouraging a healthy lifestyle to help children maintain a healthy weight. She states that the main change for their center was menu improvements, lowering fried foods, sugary items, and juice, while increasing the variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They have reduced screen time for their children, and now share more information with parents on the topics of nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices. Last summer a fun project with the preschool and school-aged children was growing a vegetable garden. “They enjoyed tending and tasting them.”
Child care centers interested in the Ohio Healthy Program can contact their local health department or the Ohio Child Care Resource & Referral Association to learn more about the application process. Preble County Public Health staff is available at 937-683-4099. OCCRRA can be contacted at 877-547-6978.
To keep up with other public health–related issues make sure to check out Preble County Public Health online at www.preblecountyhealth.org, through Facebook at www.facebook.com/PrebleCoHealth and on Twitter at @PrebleCoHealth! We are also available Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m.-4 p.m., by phone at 937-472-0087 or the Preble County EMA at 937-456-1243.