Fight fat even in toddlers, preschoolers

A food pyramid just for the under-2 set? Contrary to popular belief, children don`t usually outgrow their baby fat – and a new report urges steps to help prevent babies, toddlers and preschoolers from getting too pudgy too soon.

That`s a growing problem: Already, one in five preschoolers – 2- to 5-year-olds – is overweight or obese.

Topping the list of proposed changes: better guidelines to help parents and caregivers know just how much toddlers should eat as they move from baby food to bigger-kid fare. And making sure preschoolers get at least 15 minutes of physical activity for every hour they spend in child care.

Thursday`s recommendations, from the Institute of Medicine, aren`t about putting the very young on diets. But those early pounds can lead to lasting bad effects on their health as children grow, says the report.

Parents have the biggest influence over whether healthy eating and being active become a child`s norm.

But the report makes the case that children`s habits are influenced by far more than their parents – and thus it`s time to expand obesity prevention to more of the other places youngsters spend time. For example, nearly three-fourths of children ages 2 to 5 spend at least part of their day in some form of child care.

Some recommendations to prevent obesity in babies