Preventing Childhood Obesity: Tips for Child Care Professionals

Promote Healthy Eating Experiences

  • Provide healthy meals and snacks that meet the USDA's Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Meal Pattern requirements.
  • Limit high sugar and high fat foods. Fat should not be restricted in the diets of children younger than 2 years of age, but watch the intake of saturated fats for children 2 years of age and older.
  • Make mealtimes a pleasant and comfortable experience. Children will feel more comfortable if you sit together and share a meal. Engaging children in positive conversations will help them feel relaxed, learn new vocabulary, and practice their social skills.
  • Encourage children to try new foods without forcing them.
  • Allow children to decide how much to eat.

Promote Physical Activity

Physical activity is an important part of a good health and helps children to maintain a healthy body weight. Young children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Keep it fun and safe with age-appropriate equipment and activities.

  • Provide daily outdoor or alternative indoor activities when there is bad weather. Maximize opportunities for large motor muscle activity, such as jumping, dancing, marching, kicking, running, riding a tricycle or throwing a ball.
  • Encourage children to keep moving throughout the day by including active games and play, such as music and dance. Provide toys and equipment that encourage physical activity, such as balls, hula-hoops, bubbles and cardboard boxes.

Teach Healthy Eating Habits

  • Provide daily nutrition activities, lessons, and learning experiences to promote positive attitudes about good nutrition and health. Teaching healthy eating practices early will help children approach eating with the right attitude - that food should be enjoyed and is necessary for growth, development and energy.
  • Help families to understand and practice healthy eating habits. Provide parents with information on children's nutritional needs and healthy eating practices, so they can encourage young children to develop healthy eating habits.
  • Provide child care staff with appropriate nutrition and foodservice training. Staff should know the basic principles of child nutrition and the strategies for creating a positive environment.
  • Be a role model. Show your enthusiasm for healthy food. Set a good example by demonstrating healthy eating behaviors and an active lifestyle. Be mindful of modeling appropriate behaviors, such as enjoying a variety of foods, being willing to try new foods, and participating in physical activities.

Promote A Healthy Body Image

  • Help children to accept and feel good about themselves by supporting and encouraging them, regardless of their body size or shape.
  • Build self-esteem by praising each child's strengths and individual skills.


1/2 cup
    1% or fat-free milk    
1/2 cup
Broccoli florets   Carrot Sticks    
1/2 cup
  Mixed berries   Sliced grapes  
1/2 serving
Pretzel sticks Low-fat granola     Pita bread triangles
Meat/Meat Alternate
1/2 ounce
  Crunch Berry Parfait
(recipe below)
  Low-fat cheese cubes Hummus (bean dip)

Crunchy Berry Parfait

So quick, so easy and so delicious! The parfait is a favorite among kids

Prep time: 7 minutes
Makes: 1 parfait


1/4 cup yogurt, non-fat vanilla
1/2 cup blueberries or strawberries (fresh or frozen thawed)
1/8 cup low-fat granola (or crunchy cereal)


Spoon yogurt into a cup or bowl, then top with fruit and granola.

Source: USDA What's Cooking recipes.