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Opinion: Support of nutritional standards for early childhood settings is vital

Many of us are keenly aware of the staggering rates of childhood obesity rates in Connecticut. Up to 25 percent of Connecticut kids are considered overweight or obese.

One of the leading causes of childhood obesity is the consumption of sugar- containing beverages. Obesity negatively impacts a child’s long-term health and academic performance in the classroom (Castelli, Hillman, Buck & Erwin, JSEP, 2007). Children who are obese are more susceptible to depression and low self-esteem, and are more likely to be victims of bullying.

Empty calories from sugar-sweetened beverages contribute to approximately 22 percent of a child’s total daily caloric intake (Reedy and Smith, 2010). On average, children between the ages of 2 and 18 consume 171 empty calories per day from sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda and fruit juices combined (NHANES, 2005-06). Those 171 calories from sweetened beverages is the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar daily.

Senate Bill 48, An Act Concerning Nutrition Standards for Child Care Settings, would prohibit child day care centers, group day care homes, and family day care homes from providing:

• A beverage with artificial or natural added sweeteners to a child in their care.

• Any juice to a child eight months old or younger. Children over eight months old could receive 6 ounces per day of 100 percent juice.

John L. Cattelan is Executive Director of the Connecticut Alliance of YMCAs.

See the complete story at CT News Junkie.

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