Tennessee Tipping The Scales Against Childhood Obesity

Friday, October 4, 2019

The Tennessee Department of Human Services is receiving recognition for new requirements designed to promote good health in state licensed child care agencies.

The National Resource Center (NRC) for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education cited those changes in a report https://nrckids.org/files/Final.ASHW.2018.Report_8.19.19.pdf ranking Tennessee’s regulations as the most supportive of obesity prevention in the country.  This is the first time Tennessee has topped the NRC’s annual report and it marks a substantial improvement from the state’s previous 39th ranking.

Some of the licensing requirements that went into effect last year include: 

Adopting the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) nutritional guidelines.
Requirements for moderate to vigorous active play for both toddlers and preschoolers.
Screen time limitations on usage and age of exposure.
Active teacher engagement in physical activities with children.

“Early childhood years are critical to building good nutrition and exercise habits that ultimately lead to a thriving Tennessee,” said TDHS Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes.  “Our licensing requirements are designed to promote healthy environments for children and we’re thankful the NRC is recognizing that work with our state’s number one ranking.”

The new licensing requirements came from a collaborative effort between TDHS and the Tennessee Department of Health to identify specific ways to improve health practices in licensed child care agencies across the state.  Those changes focused on key areas including infant feeding, nutrition, and physical activity.

“Tennessee’s child care licensing regulations are now setting the standard as the most supportive of obesity prevention and healthy weight practices in the nation, and we’re proud of this achievement and our collaboration with DHS,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “It’s so important to form good habits early in life to set children on the path for a healthy and prosperous future.”

TDH and TDHS have partnered on the Gold Sneaker Initiative to offer licensed Tennessee childcare providers the opportunity to improve the health of children in their care by adopting policies related to physical activity, healthy eating and a tobacco-free environment. Learn more at www.tn.gov/health/goldsneaker.html. 

TDHS is responsible for licensing and regulating approximately 2,300 child care agencies.  The process is designed to promote early childhood environments that are safe, healthy and educationally rich.

Parents in need of assistance choosing child care are encouraged to visit our interactive database where they can search for licensed providers in their area https://www.tn.gov/humanservices/for-families/child-care-services/find-child-care.html.   They can also get tips for choosing child care https://www.tn.gov/humanservices/for-families/child-care-services/resources-for-parents.html.

Based upon income level and family size, parents may be eligible for help paying for child care. See details about the child care payment assistance program at  https://www.tn.gov/humanservices/for-families/child-care-services.html



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