Creating a healthy environment early in a child's life can improve a child's chances of maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in healthy behaviors, Sisson said.
“We know that setting an early path for health really is associated with longer term health,” Sisson said.
Many children spend a lot of time outside of their parents' care. More than half of children in the U.S. ages 2 to 5 are in a child care facility, she said. Those with working mothers spend at least 35 hours per week at a child care facility.
That means there are many opportunities for the child care center workers to promote a healthy lifestyle. Young children who are overweight or obese often carry that weight into adolescence and early adulthood, she said.
“There are some children, of course, who were maybe heavier when they were younger and then got into some kind of athletics or started to appreciate what they were eating more and are no longer at risk, but that is not what the majority of data show us,” she said.