An article published in the latest issue of the Journal of Pediatrics found that children who were cared for in daycare centres, home daycares, and to a lesser extent by family outside the home, were more likely to be overweight ten years later than were children who were cared for at home. Much has been made of this in the news and the article concluded that further investigation into the level of physical activity and foods served at daycares was warranted. I think that this would be a worthwhile endeavour; we should ensure that the healthiest possible environments are being provided to children in daycare settings. However, I also think that we should be looking beyond the daycares to determine the reason for the difference in obesity rates between children cared for bytheir parent(s) and children cared for outside the home. It’s premature to blame the daycares for providing limited opportunities for physical activity and nutritionally inferior foods. We should also be looking at what’s happening with these children outside of daycare hours.
It’s more than likely that most of these children are enrolled in daycare because their parents are busy working during the daytime. Any future studies into the reasons for childcare outside the home increasing childhood obesity should look at the home lives of these children. Are they eating a nutritious breakfast before being dropped-off at the daycare? What happens after the children are picked-up from the daycare? Are they being fed nutritious home-made suppers? Are their parents playing with them or encouraging them to engage in active play?
I don’t want to sound like I’m blaming parents. Really, I think that the fault lies with our society. Our priorities are skewed. We need to focus more on allowing time for family and for raising the next generation and less on putting in hours at the office.
*I found a lot of play blocks like the ones pictured above when I was searching for an image for this post. I think that this speaks volumes about the state of our diets and the world in which children are being raised. When I was growing-up our play food was all whole foods. Now, apparently, there is a proliferation of packaged processed crap play “foods”.