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State nutrition plan helps daycare centers keep kids healthier

DENVER — More than eight percent of kids between the ages of 2 and 4 in Colorado are overweight.

State health officials have a new plan to keep kids in child care centers healthier.

The “Meals For Healthier Kids” program toolkit provides centers with recipes, menus and other information to help kids learn about nutrition and develop healthy habits.   The goal is to get  all child care centers on board to give our kids the right start.

Health experts say kids need meals with low-fat milk, fruits, vegetables, grains and lean protein. They add that it is also important to cut sodium, sugar and saturated fat.

Tracy Miller of the Colorado Department of Public Health says, “Children in early childhood have a prime opportunity to shape their lifestyle habits in areas of being active and, in nutrition, they’re shaping food choices and learning how to eat well.”

The Department also include a program called “I am Moving, I am Learning,” which provides training for child care providers to help establish proper exercise breaks.

Melinda Sheehan of Kids Town Drop In Daycare in Aurora believes it’s a great idea.

“We work with the health department regularly for our licensing, so we welcome a team effort to help us educate families,”  says Sheehan.

Experts also offer a few suggestions for the home to keep kids healthy. Provide at least one serving of whole grains a day, limit processed and pre-fried meats to once a week and limit fruit juice to two servings a week — juice has a higher amount of natural sugar, and can be mixed with water to make it a healthier choice.

For more information about healthy eating plans for kids, visit MayoClinic.org or LiveWellColorado.org.

For more information about Kids Town Drop In Child Care, visit KidsTownCenters.com.

For information about the Child and Adult Care Food Program, visit FNS.USDA.gov or call 303-692-2330.