ALBANY, N.Y. - New York authorities issued new rules on Wednesday governing licensed day care centres to require they serve low-fat milk, water or 100 per cent juice to help prevent obesity.
The rules from the Office of Children and Family Services, mainly updating health and safety standards, take effect in June for most of the state. They also require daily physical activity.
OCFS said it discussed best practices and the practicality of obesity prevention measures with state and federal health officials. The rules authorize parents to provide alternate beverages if they choose.
"In addition, children must have physical activity every day, and screen time activities must be limited during the child day care program," the agency said. Television and other electronic visual media must be turned off during meals, naps and any other time when they're "not part of a planned developmentally appropriate program activity."
Daily outdoor play is required, except in bad weather or a child's doctor advises against it.
Childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past 30 years and quadrupled in adolescents, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The obese ages 6-11 years in the U.S. increased from 7 per cent in 1980 to nearly 18 per cent in 2012. The CDC said it's from too few calories expended for the amount consumed.
Many states and communities are working on obesity prevention both generally and in early childhood education settings, CDC spokeswoman Cassie Sheldon Strawn said. She didn't immediately know whether other states have issued similar rules.
For day care staff, the New York updates prohibit cellphone or electronic media use while supervising children. They also prohibit any guns on the premises, except by police or security guards.
New York City regulates day care separately.
The state rules apply to small centres authorized for three to six children, as well as larger centres, and specify staff ratios. Maximum capacity is specified on licenses. Those with school-age children early and late in the day are prohibited from letting them mix with toddlers.
Sleeping and napping arrangements are to be made in writing between parents and centres.
Reptiles, amphibians and any diseased or threatening pets are prohibited.
The state and New York City reported having 21,181 regulated child care providers last year with capacity for 708,498 children. The updated rules will apply to about 3,300 providers for nearly 260,000 young and school-age children.
Other state regulations adopted in May apply to about 6,400 home day-cares, usually for three to six children each. Those require, for example, one caregiver for every two children under age two.