Creating healthy children

Parents, we will do just about anything to keep kids healthy. We make sure our children are dressed appropriately for weather, getting enough sleep, brushing their teeth enough and more.

Did you know?

• 41.5 percent of Iowa kids watch television or play video games 1-4 hours per day.

• Only one-third of American high school kids regularly attend physical education classes.

• Iowa ranks 47th lowest of the 50 states in the percentage of residents who say they regularly eat fruits and vegetables.

A new initiative from Iowa’s Healthiest State and in partnership with Gov. Kim Reynolds, makes being healthy easy. It is called 5-2-1-0. Here is how the scientific rationale works and why it is beneficial:

5 or more fruits and vegetables

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides vitamins and minerals, important for supporting growth and development, and for optimal immune function in children. High daily intakes of fruits and vegetables among adults are associated with lower rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and possibly, some types of cancers. Emerging science suggests fruit and vegetable consumption may help prevent weight gain, and when total calories are controlled, may be an important aid to achieving and sustaining a healthy weight.

2 hours or less recreational screen time

Watching too much television and use of other screen media is associated with an increased prevalence of overweight and obesity, lower reading scores, and attention problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time a day and that children under age 2 not watch any TV or other screen media. The AAP recommends keeping the TV and computer out of the bedroom.

1 hour or more of physical activity

Regular physical activity is essential for weight maintenance and prevention of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and osteoporosis. While most school age children are quite active, physical activity sharply declines during adolescence. Children who are raised in families with active lifestyles are more likely to stay active as adults than children raised in families with sedentary lifestyles.

0 sugary drinks, more water

Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has increased dramatically since the 1970s; high intake among children is associated with overweight and obesity, displacement of milk consumption, and dental cavities. The AAP recommends that children 1-6 years old consume no more than 4-6 ounces of 100 percent juice per day and youth 7-18 years old consume no more than 8-12 ounces. Water provides a low-cost, zero-calorie beverage option and is a healthy alternative to sugary drinks.

Additional individual resources are available at:

Please consider making these healthy life changes today!


Carrie Kube is a director for Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area Board. All thoughts and opinions expressed are that of the author and not the board and/or its community partners.