Childhood Obesity Prevention

Choosy Health

The goal of the Choosy (Choose Health Options Often & Start Young®) Project is the improvement of children’s physical activity and nutrition behaviors during the preschool years, when children’s preferences and habits are first being formed.  The Choosy project focuses on delivering consistent health messages via the significant spheres of influence surrounding the preschool child, namely the child’s parents, the child care center, and the child’s pediatrician.

Choosy is a friendly children’s character and ambassador for healthy choices. 

  • As an ambassador for healthy children, Choosy wants to help prevent childhood obesity.
  • Choosy is a role model who encourages healthy decision-making from all of us.
  • Choosy assists parents, teachers, doctors, and dentist by supplying consistent health messages.
  • Choosy recognizes that preferences for food, physical activity, and health habits are “learned” from others early in life.
  • Choosy helps grown ups to facilitate movement and nutrition experiences of young children so that healthy preferences are reinforced early and often.
  • Choosy helps to promote healthy messages and behaviors in homes, child care centers, agencies, physician and dentist offices, and schools with lively songs, activities, and helpful materials.
  • Choosy’s name is tied to his behavior, and his message is simple: Be Choosy Be Healthy®

Nutrition: Be Choosy, Be Nourished

Make Time to Be Healthy

  • I Want To Be Like You! – Your child will do what you do. If you eat healthier food, your child will too.
  • Together Is Better – Have your child help set the table, make the meal, and clean up. This is great “together” time after a busy day!
  • Happy Talk = Happy Tummies! Talk about nice things at meals because it helps food digest better. Show your child how to chew food slowly to help with digestion.
  • Turn Off To Tune In! At meal time, turn off phones, TVs, and computers so families can pay attention to each other. Bring everyone to the table to eat together for a family meal.

Choosy Snacks

  • Size Up Your Snacks! Serve snacks in small bowls or plates to keep family members from overeating at snack time.
  • Snack Helpers – Invite your kids to help fix fun and healthy snacks. They will want to eat what they make!
  • Reach For A Peach – Keep healthy snacks like fresh fruit and vegetable sticks ready for family snack attacks!
  • I Spy Something…Healthy! Kids will ask for things they can see. Keep healthy snacks on the lower shelves in the fridge or at eye level for children.
  • Snack Smart – Check snack labels for sugar, salt (sodium), and fat before giving them to your child. Lots of “healthy” snacks aren’t so healthy! Pick snacks that say “no artificial colors or flavors” or that have no labels, like fruit.

Crave your F.A.V.: Fruits and Veggies are the healthiest foods.

  • Eat A Rainbow – Eat fruits and vegetables of different colors to build healthy bodies.
  • Fresh Is Best! Fresh foods like fruits and veggies have vitamins and other good things that our bodies need to grow. Fresh foods also help keep us healthy and fit because they are low in calories!
  • Balancing Act – Make sure your meals have one of each: whole grain (whole wheat bread/brown rice), low-fat dairy (yogurt/skim milk), lean meat (chicken/ fish), fruit and vegetable.
  • Food For Thought – Make sure children eat a healthy breakfast every day to help them think better all day long!
  • Cook With Kids – Children are more likely to eat foods they help to make. This is a good time to talk about what is healthy.

Shop Smart

  • Kick The Can (and the box!) – Boxed foods and canned foods with sauces, or syrups have more salt, sugar, and preservatives. Try to eat more fresh foods instead.
  • Shop Around – The sides of food stores have the “good for you” foods like milk, fresh meats, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • You’re The Boss! Children eat what we give them, so buy and cook healthy foods.
  • The Family That Shops Together – Have your children help you find healthy foods at the store. The more they help, the more they learn about healthy foods.
  • Label Before Table – Look on labels for low fat, low sugar, and low salt (sodium) before you buy. Avoid labels with long lists of big words.

Drink Less Sugar

  • Less Is Better – Less sugar can help keep kids fit and keep away problems like high blood sugar (diabetes), weight gain, and cavities.
  • Water Your Juice – Try adding water to 100% juice to cut down on sugar, calories and cavities.
  • Why Buy? – Soda pop, powdered drinks, and punches have calories and lots of sugar, but no nutrition. Why buy things that make children gain weight and get cavities?
  • Water Your Kids! Children need water every day to help their brains and bodies work their best – and it’s cheap!
  • Wow Your Water – Put slices of lemon, lime, orange, or cucumber in your child’s water to add flavor and vitamins.

Think Tiny Tummies

  • Serve Them Up! A serving size of food is about one tablespoon for each year of age up to age five.
  • Small-size Not Super-size! No need to ever super-size meals.
  • I Feel Full – Insisting on “clean plates” can lead to overeating. Children will let you know when they feel full. Fruits and Veggies give us a feeling of being full for a longer time than junk foods.
  • Keep Trying! Even if your child refuses to try new food, keep trying. Just because they have refused it nine times, doesn’t mean children won’t eat it after 10, 12, or 15 tries!

Physical Activity: Be Choosy, Be Active

Play with Me

  • Their Favorite Toy – YOU are your child’s favorite toy. Remember your child really loves to play with YOU!
  • Make Memories – Playing with your child brings you closer together. Children will remember who took time to play with them.
  • Let Kids be Kids – Celebrate your child’s early years with play, not sports. Children are not little athletes. Sports can come later.
  • Play is the Best Fit – Your child will stay fit through active, supervised play and doesn’t need to “do exercises” for fitness.

This is My Body

  • I Love Me! – Each child’s body is special and deserves to be treated that way. “Whether I’m thick or thin, I love the body I’m in!”
  • I Respect My Body! – What I eat and how much I move tells my body how much I love and respect it.
  • Everyone’s a WINNER – Children need lots of praise from us to keep trying when learning new skills. Don’t worry about how other children are doing – your child is moving at just the right pace!

Celebrate Feeling Great

  • Music Moves Me – Moving to your favorite music helps your heart AND your mood!
  • Fun and Fit – Always make physical activity fun. Exercise should never be used as a punishment.
  • Take Ten – It just takes 10 minutes of active movement several times during the day to keep you healthy and happy. So try to give yourself and your kids lots of 10 minute “activity breaks” every day.
  • Boost and Burn! – Active play, exercise, and moving to music ALL give you and your children more energy and help you burn calories.

Be Choosy Outside

  • Outside Everyone – Outdoor play is a great way for children to use their bodies to learn in nature.
  • Off to the Playground – Playgrounds and parks are great for exploring, learning to play with others, and figuring out how things “work.” And they are so much FUN!
  • The Great Outdoors – Going on walks with your child encourages talking, sharing new experiences, and learning new words.
  • Let the Sun Shine – Playing outside wakes up your senses and the sunshine gives you lots of good Vitamin D.
  • It’s Easy Being Green – Choosy says taking care of plants is a great way to be active. Children tend to eat veggies that they plant and water. In smaller spaces, plant seeds in flower pots!

Body Language

  • Choosy Says – Talking about moving lets your children know what their bodies can do. Choosy says “Bend and stretch to touch our toes! What does it mean to stretch?”
  • I’m My Own Boss – Let children know they are in charge of their bodies and their muscles. “Tell your feet to stop when the music stops.”
  • Look at You – Celebrate all achievements, big and small. “Wow! I like how you hop on just one foot!” Be sure to cheer your children on when they try something new - no matter how it goes.
  • Movement Makes Me Smarter – Movement and active play helps your child’s brain grow while the body is learning new skills. Plus, active learning is FUN!
  • Change is Good – Be active in different ways with your children. What they learn now builds skills for playing games and sports later.

Move More

  • It’s Child’s Play – Children need active play that adds up to at least 2 hours a day. Let your children choose activities that get them moving every day. Suggest new activities sometimes.
  • The More the Merrier – Add more “active minutes” by finding ways to have your children play childhood games with other children about the same age.
  • My Heart Says Thanks – Physical activity makes your heart say thanks each time it beats. The faster your heart beats, the more it says THANK YOU!
  • Moving is the Best Medicine – The best prescription for being healthy and fit is to move more.

Oral Health: Choosy says, “Brush your teeth!”

Prevent Tooth Decay and Cavities

  • Take a Bath in Fluoride – Young children need fluoride to develop strong teeth. Fluoride toothpaste prevents cavities when used twice a day. Tell children that toothpaste gives their teeth a bath!
  • Check for Spots – Check your child’s teeth for stains and chalky white or brown spots. These may be signs of cavities and you should take your child to the dentist.
  • Not Sharing is Caring – Do not pre-taste or pre-chew your child’s food or share spoons, forks, or cups. When you do this, you are sharing germs that can cause cavities and make your child sick.
  • Be a Quarterback – Your child’s doctor, dentist, and dental hygienist are part of your health care team. You are the quarterback sharing information and making sure the “team” knows you and your child. Choosy is the coach who encourages you to follow the game plan for developing healthy children.
  • Know What’s Available – Know the services that are available to you through your insurance company and local agencies. Ask your health care team for help if you are not sure about the services that might be available for your child.

Healthy Teeth, Happy Babies

  • Nourish Me – Put only formula, breast milk, or water in a baby bottle – no juice or sweet drinks.
  • Clean Me – Even before you see the first tooth, be sure to wipe your baby’s gums after feeding and before bedtime using a clean, damp wash cloth wrapped around your finger. You may use a soft tooth brush with a very small dot of fluoride toothpaste when you see your child’s first tooth.
  • Safe Sippy Cups – A sippy cup can be given when babies are able to sit up. For mouth safety, make sure your child is sitting down, not walking or running, while drinking from a sippy cup.
  • Sugar Free Sippy Cups – It is not healthy for baby’s body or teeth when your child sips on sweet drinks or juice. Offer your child water in a sippy cup between meals and at bedtime.
  • Sugar-free Lullaby – Do not put your baby to sleep with a bottle or a sippy cup of milk or juice because this can cause cavities. Singing lullabies to help your child go to sleep does not cause cavities!

Go to the Dentist

  • Who? A dentist is a doctor for your mouth. A dental hygienist helps prevent tooth decay by doing things like cleaning your teeth.
  • Why? Your child needs healthy teeth to have a healthy body.
  • When? Schedule your child’s first visit to the dentist as soon as you see the first tooth or by your child’s first birthday. You should call your dentist whenever you have questions about your child’s teeth.
  • How often? You and your child should visit your dentist every six months to stay healthy.
  • Read About It – Read to your child about healthy teeth and going to the dentist. This helps your child understand why going to the dentist is important to staying healthy. Reading about it makes going to the dentist seem like an adventure.

Healthy Snacks for Healthy Teeth

  • Crave Your F.A.V. (fruits and veggies) – Feed your child many colors of fresh fruits and veggies for strong teeth and a healthy body.
  • Raw When Ready – Munching on raw veggies helps keep teeth healthy and clean. When children have their back teeth (molars), they can eat raw veggies. Be sure to cut food into small pieces to keep your child from choking.
  • You are What You Eat – If children eat sugary foods and drink sweet drinks, their teeth and their bodies will be unhealthy.
  • Why Buy? – Soda pop, powdered drinks, and punches have lots of sugar but no nutrition. Why buy things that make children get cavities and gain weight?
  • Less Is Better – Less sugar can help keep kids fit and keep away problems like cavities, high blood sugar (diabetes), and weight gain.

Water Your Teeth

  • Tap Into Your Water – Most tap water (or water from the faucet) has fluoride which helps to protect your child’s teeth and make them stronger. Most bottled water does not have fluoride.
  • Water Your Kids! Children need water every day to have their brains and bodies be as healthy as possible!
  • Wow Your Water – Put slices of lemon, lime, orange, or cucumber in your child’s water to add flavor and vitamins.
  • Water Your Juice – Try adding water to 100% juice to cut down on sugar, calories, and cavities.

Cleaning Your Choosy Smile

  • Help Me Brush – Always help brush your child’s teeth, especially after breakfast and before bedtime. Parents must help with brushing until about age 7 or 8.
  • Just a Little in the Middle! – Put a tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste, smaller than a pea, on a toothbrush made just for a child. Fluoride and brushing are very important for healthy teeth.
  • Don’t Rush When You Brush – Help brush your child’s teeth for 2 minutes. Consider using a timer or playing a 2 minute Choosy song while brushing teeth.
  • Give Your Child’s Teeth A Hug – Choosy says you need clean teeth to be healthy, so help your child brush every night before bed.

For more information on the Childhood Obesity Prevention program, please contact:
Kerry McKenzie, Special Project Coordinator, Obesity Prevention
(864) 454-1104 | kmckenzie@ghs.org