We Must Act Early

The Impact of Obesity on Children

When healthy habits are formed during the preschool years, they can last a lifetime. Early care and education settings are ideal places to encourage good nutrition and physical activity and model healthy behaviors for children. Well-Ahead Louisiana guides child care centers and early education programs on how to make the healthy choice, the easy choice in their environments to help children grow up healthy and strong.

The impact of obesity on our children is eye-opening. It can put them at risk for health issues such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and more as they become adults. By incorporating evidence-based policies and practices that help children establish healthy behaviors in early care and education settings, there is hope for connecting our children to a healthier future.

1 in 5

Louisiana children 0-5 years old live in a household where someone smokes¹


Louisiana children 1-5 years old had tooth decay or cavities in the past year¹


of babies in Louisiana are breastfed for the recommended first 6 months of life²


of children 2-4 years old enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) are obese³

Providing a Healthy Foundation

Improve the Health of Louisiana Children

Making healthy changes in early care and education settings can improve childhood development and can provide protection against chronic diseases in adulthood. Early care education settings can directly influence what children eat and drink and how active they are, as well as help to reduce screen time and support breastfeeding. This builds a foundation for healthy habits.

Well-Ahead provides training and technical assistance to early care and education settings based on the Spectrum of Opportunities framework to help children develop to their full potential and live healthier lives. This includes making healthy changes in their environments for the children they care for, but also implementing changes that support better health for employees. By modeling healthy behaviors each day, employees can motivate the children in their care to do the same.


1 Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, 2018-2019. National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) data query

2 National Immunization Survey, 2016.

3 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 68(46);1057-1061. “State-Specific Prevalence of Obesity Among Children Aged 2–4 Years Enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children—United States, 2010-2016.”

Success Stories

Helping children form healthy habits impacts the future health of our communities, one step at a time.

Helping Louisiana’s Children Grow

Helping Louisiana’s Children Grow

When established early, healthy behaviors can set a foundation for a healthier future. Chan’s Scholar Toddlers (CST) child care center in Amite, Louisiana provides full and part-time care services for a range of ages. Through Well-Ahead Louisiana’s Let’s Be Healthy grant, they built a vegetable garden to help teach children about making healthy decisions. As …

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Northeast Children’s Coalition Encourages Child Care Centers to Become WellSpots

Northeast Children’s Coalition Encourages Child Care Centers to Become WellSpots

The Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana knows that investing early in the health and development of Louisiana’s children results in much better development later, and that’s one of the reasons they are proud to be a WellSpot. “The childhood obesity problem in Louisiana is critical,” said then-executive director of the Coalition Lynn Clark. “It falls …

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