Early Care and Education (ECE)

Download factsheet Cdc-pdf[PDF-1.64MB]

Why is This Setting Important?

More than 1 in 5 U.S. children ages 2 – 5 years are overweight or have obesity.

Most young children spend time in care outside of their home, making the ECE setting one of the best places to reach young children with obesity prevention efforts.

  • More than 60% of children 3-5 years olds are in a non-parental care arrangement on a weekly basis. 1
  • More than 11 million children under age 6 spend an average of 30 hours in non-parental care, with children of working mothers spending almost 40 hours a week in such care. 2
Join Us!
Children and teacher on a playground

The Monthly Obesity Prevention in ECE Networking Call and News Blast shares expertise and resources around improved nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention in the ECE setting.
Email eceobesity@cdc.gov for more information.

State ECE systems can promote standards that address nutrition, infant feeding, physical activity, and screen time. ECE facilities can implement practices and programs that support healthy eating and physical activity among young children. These improvements can directly affect what children eat and drink, how active they are, reduce their screen time, support moms who breastfeed, and build a foundation for healthy living.

What is CDC’s Role?

CDC developed a framework for obesity prevention in the ECE setting known as the Spectrum of Opportunities Cdc-pdf[PDF-655KB]. The Spectrum outlines how a state’s ECE system can embed recommended standards and best practices for obesity prevention. The Quick Start Action Guide (April 2018) Cdc-pdf[PDF-512KB] guides users through the Spectrum, and provides action steps to plan or strengthen state-level efforts in obesity prevention.

CDC also provides funding, training, and technical assistance to a variety of organizations to carry out obesity prevention efforts for the ECE setting based on the Spectrum of Opportunities framework.

In addition, CDC tracks states’ obesity prevention efforts targeting the ECE setting, releasing the first ever ECE State Indicator Report in 2016.

Key Resources

This section provides tools and resources to help states, ECE systems, and public health practitioners promote good nutrition and physical activity in the ECE setting.

Stories from the Field

This section highlights successes from grantees at the state and local level to promote good nutrition and physical activity in the ECE setting.



  1. Early Childhood Program Participation Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (ECPP-NHES:2005). National Center for Education Statistics Web siteExternal. Accessed January 2, 2014.
  2. Laughlin, L. Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2011. Current Population Reports, P70-135. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013. Available at https://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p70-135.pdf Cdc-pdf[PDF-634KB]External