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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Part 1 Nutrition and Healthy Eating Habits It turns out the phrase “You are what you eat” is closer to the truth than many of us thought. We now know without a doubt that what we eat has a significant impact on our bodies, now and in the future. The foods we choose to eat are powerful; they can positively or negatively affect our overall health, energy level, ability to fight off disease, physical appearance, mental attitude and perspective, and brain development. From pregnancy onward, food and nutrition choices impact a child’s life. Many people—including parents, other family members, and teachers—influence a child’s eating habits. Being mindful of what children eat can have a substantial impact on weight, physical appearance, behavior, health, and development. So adults tasked with the care and education of young children must be intentional about encouraging nutritious food choices and healthy eating habits in children. Childhood Obesity Obesity and obesity-related issues have received increasing national attention in recent years, leading to a surge of research and focus on nutrition-related issues. The evidence of our country’s obesity epidemic is impossible to ignore. Childhood nutrition and eating habits are in the spot- light because of the alarming statistics that have emerged. Here are some facts: • Over the past two decades, the prevalence of obesity in children has doubled; at the same time, the number of adolescents who are obese has tripled (AAP 2012). • Thirty-two percent of children and adolescents are overweight, meaning their body mass index (BMI) is at or above the eighty-fifth percentile, and 16.3 percent are obese, with a BMI at or above the ninety-fifth percentile (Cali and Caprio 2008). • According to Let’s Move, approximately one in five children is overweight before age six. 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL