Adorable little boy sitting in a shopping cart holding oranges

5210_Icon_4C_RowAll of Kentucky’s children deserve to start a life full of opportunity. We know the habits formed in early childhood can determine whether or not kids grow up to become healthy, productive, contributing adults. Unfortunately, they’re surrounded by people and places that encourage sitting, staring at smartphones, eating junk food and guzzling sugary drinks. And the consequences are clear: Children today could be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents. We can change this by helping them establish healthy behaviors beginning in early childhood.
The 5-2-1-0 message focuses on four simple behaviors that can be incorporated into the daily routines of children, to teach them that healthy habits now, matter forever.  Our hope is that the places where children live, learn, and play, will support these behaviors and make it easier for every child to grow up healthy.  

5- Five or more fruits and vegetables every day. 

Fruits and vegetables supply vitamins and minerals necessary for growth and the immune system as well as fiber important to our overall diet. What is on the menus at your child care? What do children eat at snack time at your church or after their soccer game? We can support children in this healthy behavior by including fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack. Take a look at the menus in the environments your child is and ask questions.

2- Two hours or less of screen time. 

Becoming aware of the amount of screen time children today experience can be overwhelming. There are so many devices and endless options for gaming and viewing. When children are engaged with a screen they aren’t being physically active and depending on the device, they may be exposed to commercials for fast food, sweetened beverages and processed food with their favorite characters as spokespersons. By creating spaces that support physical activity and social interaction we make it easier to limit screen time. Simply becoming aware of screen time consumption by using the screen time log is a great first step!

 1-One hour or more of physical activity.

Children need at least one hour of physical activity daily, and more as they age. Young children get their physical activity in small bursts. They need physical activity to develop the gross motor skills and the strong bones and muscles they need for a healthy life.  We know most children love to run and play but they need adults to provide them opportunities to play safely and adults to encourage, teach and engage with them. Movement can be easily incorporated into the structure of your child’s day – check to see how much physical activity is scheduled in daily lesson plans or use this activity calendar at home.  

 0-Zero sugary drinks.

Sugary drinks include 100% juice, sports drinks, soda, fruit beverages and flavored milks.  A small 4-6 ounce serving contains more sugar than a growing body needs and many children consume multiple servings each day. A child’s body is made up of more than 50% water and needs water to thrive. Support children by offering water as a first choice outside of meals and keeping a water bottle handy for quick access. Check menus where your child spends time.  How frequently and how much juice is being consumed?

Children learn by watching their families, teachers, and other peers. Role modeling is one of the most effective ways to nurture the four healthy behaviors in the 5-2-1-0 message.  Be a role model and help Kentucky kids start with a healthy foundation for a strong future!

The Kentucky Department for Public Health has developed multiple resources to support sharing the 5-2-1-0 message with families, caregivers, and communities.  These resources include free posters, brochures, stickers, presentations, activity calendars and logs and trackers.  To view, download and/or order these materials visit the 5-2-1-0 resources web page.


Choose My Plate – Preschooler Age Food Groups

Let’s Move! Child Care

Family Education – The American Heart Association Sugar Guidelines

Women and Children’s Health Network
5-2-1-0 Healthy Numbers for Kentucky Families