More than 10 percent of American kids between the ages of 2 and 5 are already overweight or obese, according to the January 2005 annual statistics report of the American Heart Association. This number comes from an analysis of children measured in 2002, and is the latest data available. It’s almost half-again as many as were overweight in 1994, when 7 percent of American preschoolers were already in weight trouble.
Given that most American children are hooked on junk food before age 2, these numbers do not surprise me. But they do alarm me. It’s more than a million overweight kids before they start elementary school. And the number swells to 4 million during the elementary school years. Our kids deserve to be taught to truly enjoy eating healthy amounts of healthful foods, and to enjoy, to revel in, active play – preferably before the bad habits even start. That’s one of the reasons I wrote From First Kicks to First Steps. These healthy habits are easiest for parents to teach before the toddler years, and can even be started before the baby is born!