Tuesday, February 8, 2011

One Important Way Home Child Care Providers Make a Difference

I love working for Wildwood because it is so rewarding to work with home child care providers!  One big reason for this is that home child care providers have such a great impact on the eating habits and diet of the children in their care.  They can help children learn about nutrition, and expose them to a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods that they might not have the opportunity to try at home.  Providers on our program teach children to have healthy eating habits that last a lifetime!

A couple of years ago we did a workshop addressing the influence of a child's diet on brain development in early childhood.  We know that a child's brain is growing the fastest in the first three years of life.  That is why what a child eats during this time is so important!   A new study that was recently published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health  gives more evidence to support just how important a healthy diet is.  The researchers found that if a child's diet was high in processed food (high in fats and sugars) at the age of 3 it caused a lower IQ later on in that child's life.  Surprisingly, even if a child's diet improved after age 3, there was no benefit to the IQ score (dietary patterns between the ages of 4 and 7 had no impact on the IQ).   The authors of the study suggest that these findings were due to the fact  that "good nutrition during the first three years of life may encourage optimal brain growth".

I just wanted to share this article and congratulate all of our providers who are participating in the Wildwood Child and Adult Care Food Program.  It helps to remind ourselves that while it may take a little more effort sometimes to prepare a healthy snack or meal rather than just serving more processed choices,  it is worth it for our kids' health and quality of life.  You are making a difference every day!

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