High-Quality Preschools Create Healthier Adults, Yet Few Children Have Access to Programs

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, high-quality preschool programs have the capacity to counteract adulthood obesity and heart disease. By encouraging healthy lifestyle choices from an early age, these programs have been proven to prevent the development of metabolic disease in three to four -year-olds and lessen the risk of other chronic conditions, they say.

Preschools achieve this goal in three separate ways, say researchers. First, they instill in children healthy eating habits that stay with them for years to come. They also get kids moving via opportunities for active play.

Second, high-quality pre-K programs help educate parents on how to best support their child’s development. By teaching parents about mental health and other essential factors that affect their child’s wellbeing, these programs promote positive home environments. In addition to supporting socio-emotional development, this reduces children’s early exposure to toxic stress, which has lifelong consequences on health, according to researchers.

Finally, attending a high-quality preschool increases the likelihood that children will be financially stable and well-educated as adults, which are characteristics strongly correlated to physical health.

These benefits are especially evident in low-income children, whose families tend to experience higher rates of obesity and other health risks than their more affluent peers. Despite these significant advantages, The Washington Post reports thatonly a third of four-year-olds and even fewer three-year-olds have access to high-quality pre-K programs.