Child Nutrition and Exercise
We can ensure children grow up healthy and strong by making the healthy choice the easy choice for families. Ensuring children in child care, school, and community settings are immunized, provided nutritious foods, and given plenty of opportunity for vigorous exercise are important steps to giving children a healthy start in life.
Good nutrition and an active lifestyle are essential to ensure that kids grow up healthy and live productive lives free of chronic disease, such as diabetes. Unfortunately, Colorado is experiencing troubling trends in child hunger and childhood obesity. According to CDPHE’s Colorado Child Health Survey (2012-2014), 27 percent of Colorado children were estimated to be overweight or obese. Children in lower-income families are more likely to be overweight or obese: 32 percent of children living below 250 percent of the federal poverty level were overweight or obese, compared to 23 percent of children living in families with higher incomes. While it may seem counterintuitive, poverty can create a link between food insecurity and obesity. Less expensive foods tend to be of lower nutritional value, and access to fresh produce and lean meats can be limited in low-income neighborhoods.
Between 2012 and 2014, an estimated 242,000 children (about 19 percent of Colorado kids) lived in households that experienced hunger at some point during the year. Although the economic recovery has helped improve conditions, there were still nearly 40,000 more children experiencing food insecurity in 2014 than in the years leading up to the recession. Ensuring all kids have access to adequate healthy food and safe places to exercise and play is essential to ending both hunger and obesity in Colorado’s kids.
Recent Policy Successes
House Bill 13-1006 The bill requires schools to offer a breakfast at no charge to each student enrolled in a public school that has 70 percent or more students who are eligible for free or reduced price lunch under the USDA’s National School Lunch Program. Roughly 360 Colorado schools are required to offer breakfast after the bell to all students under the law, giving more than 80,000 additional children access to a daily breakfast. It’s a responsible and cost-effective way to set up Colorado’s children for academic success and healthy growth and development.
House Bill 11-1069 required all Colorado public elementary schools to make physical activity opportunities available to students for 600 minutes per month (the equivalent of 30 minutes per day).
Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is federal legislation that reauthorized and strengthened federal nutrition programs including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the school lunch and breakfast programs.