The early years of life are critical times in the physical and mental growth and development of the young child. Children are often exposed to many unhealthy choices at an early age while they are forming lifestyle habits (involving eating and physical activity, for instance) that may last a lifetime. Head Start and state pre-K child developments centers in Alameda County serving over 12,000 children are not affiliated with schools with federal mandates requiring nutrition and wellness policies. The Alameda County 2014 SNAP-Ed Profile shows that 33.4% of 2-to-4-year-olds are overweight/obese and 17.4% are obese. The alarming rates of obesity and the associated high risk of negative consequences establish the research basis for Policy, Systems, Environment (PSE) work—focusing on nutrition and physical activity—in early childhood (EC) development sites in Alameda County.
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