Iowa launches effort to combat child obesity

There's a new effort being launched to combat childhood obesity in Iowa.    The program focuses on simple, daily health habits, including eating fruits and vegetables, limiting "screen-time," getting an hour or more of physical  activity, and no or fewer sugary drinks.

The “5210 – Healthy Choices Count”  is a public-private partnership with the Healthiest State Initiative and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH).

5210 is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program that focuses on the importance of four simple daily health habits:

5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables;

2 hours or less of screen time (television, computer, video games, phones, etc.)

1 hour or more of physical activity; 

0 (or reduced) sugar-sweetened beverages.

“Research has shown that children who have healthy eating habits, are physically active and spend less time in front of a screen do better in school,” Gov. Reynolds said. “Their reading scores improve, they are able to maintain better focus in class and they sleep better. Children who do better in school are more likely to pursue post-secondary education and are better equipped to contribute to Iowa’s economic success.”

“This is the first statewide effort to provide consistent messaging and programming regarding the subject of childhood obesity,” IDPH Director Gerd Clabaugh said. “If families are exposed to consistent messaging in many places, they are more likely to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors in their daily lives.”


In November and December 2017, a statewide 5210 campaign will include tool kits, social media, advertising, website content and community commitments. IDPH is working directly with Malvern (Mills County), Dubuque (Dubuque County), Mt. Pleasant (Henry County) and West Union (Fayette County) to implement community-wide strategies around 5210. Each community will receive $18,000 to improve access to a healthy environment.

In the Des Moines metro area, United Way of Central Iowa will work with local healthcare providers and will continue its work with Visiting Nurse Services to improve childcare, out-of-school and school environments.

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