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Baby Fat Takes On a Whole New Meaning

Last week was declared National Childhood Obesity week, but it also brought some startling news about the state-by-state figures on the adult obesity rate. And this week, yet another demographic is the subject of obesity concerns— babies.

According to new guidelines from the British health department, children under the age of 5 who can walk should be active for three hours a day. For babies and toddlers who can't walk yet, the guidelines advise floor-based activities or swimming sessions with a parent.

Concerns have also been raised in the United States, where the Institute of Medicine recently recommended that pre-schoolers exercise 15 minutes for every one hour they spend in child care and suggested the government create dietary guidelines for babies from the time they're born to age 2.

Making sure babies and toddlers are healthy and getting enough exercise is important, but guidelines specifically addressing newborn diet and fitness seem a little extreme.

Perhaps the message should be that sedentary behaviors don't just sprout up in children when they hit a certain age. Introducing kids to an active lifestyle and taking the time to make sure they play away from the TV should begin early in childhood, not just when a child becomes old enough for P.E. class and organized sports.

Will this cause an increase in fitness programming for toddlers? Some health clubs already target childen as members. Others offer classes that aim to get parents and toddlers exercising together. The Kishwaukee Family YMCA in Sycamore, IL, has pre-gym classes for 1 to 5-year-olds where toddlers can watch their parents being active and parents can learn more about how to make sure their family lives a healthy lifestyle.

What do you think of the new guidelines? Would you ever offer infant of toddler fitness at your club?

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