"Grilled chicken replaced the hot dogs. Strawberries instead of cookies at snack time. No more fruit juice — water or low-fat milk only. This is the new menu at a Delaware day care center, part of a fledgling movement to take the fight against obesity to pudgy preschoolers.
Day care is the next frontier: New Harvard research shows few states require that child-care providers take specific nutrition and physical activity steps considered key to keeping the under-5 crowd fit.
And while years of work now have older kids starting to get healthier food in schools, more and more kindergarteners show up their first day already overweight or obese.
"We've got to start really early. Elementary school is too late," Dr. Lynn Silver of the New York City Health Department — a leader in anti-obesity standards for day care — told a recent meeting that brought child-care specialists together with federal and state health authorities to start learning how.
This isn't about putting youngsters on a diet. It's about teaching them early, before bad habits form, how being active and eating healthy can be the norm — and that junk food, including the chicken nuggets-type fare that we call "kid food" — should be a rare treat."