News Release

NIH and the Children's Museum of Manhattan launch innovative program to help families create healthier futures

Through an innovative public-private partnership, the National Institutes of Health and the Children's Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) have created a new health educational curriculum — EatPlayGrow: Creative Activities for a Healthy Start — for children ages 2-5 and their parents.

The curriculum was launched today at a press conference in New York City attended by George Mensah, M.D., senior advisor from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI); representatives from CMOM; Sam Kass, executive director of Let’s Move!, the First Lady Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity initiative; and representatives of other EatPlayGrow partners. CMOM is part of a group of museums involved in the Let's Move! initiative.

In the past 30 years, the prevalence of childhood obesity has more than doubled among children ages 2-5 and has almost tripled among children ages 6-11 and adolescents ages 12-19.

"The rise of obesity in children is a serious public health concern," said Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health. "This unique partnership brings the latest NIH childhood obesity science to life through fun and familiar kids' activities like art, storytelling, music, and dance."

The EatPlayGrow curriculum combines the latest science and research from NIH with CMOM's creative educational approach to teach kids and their parents how to make healthy living choices that are fun and easy to include in daily routines. The new program was adapted from NIH's We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity & Nutrition) Energize Our Families Parent Program curriculum, which is geared to children ages 8-13. The We Can! national education program provides parents, caregivers, and community organizations with the science-based tips, tools, and strategies they need to help children maintain a healthy weight.

EatPlayGrow’s interactive and fun lessons use art-making, storytelling, music, and movement activities to teach children about the importance of making positive choices in areas that most affect health: nutrition, physical activity, and, based on the latest medical research, sleep. For example, in one lesson children learn how to use their five senses to understand how to listen to the body's nutrition and physical activity needs.

"To effectively address the obesity epidemic, research findings on the prevention of overweight and obesity must be moved into real-world settings and diverse populations. EatPlayGrow takes on the obesity epidemic by bringing healthy living strategies to young children and their families in their communities," said Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., director of NHLBI

The new curriculum will be offered to interested community organizations, including NIH's We Can!community sites across the United States and to the national networks of the Association of Children's Museums. The curriculum also will be available for download on the We Can!website at http://www.nih.gov/wecan.

The curriculum has been tested and implemented in New York City and New Orleans in community centers, children’s museums, Head Start centers, and with childcare providers. Studies conducted in parent-child engagement programs with low-income families in New York City and New Orleans found that after experiencing the curriculum, participants made changes in their purchasing preferences and food habits, and showed positive changes in attitudes and behaviors around food and physical activity. The curriculum was also tested with home-based childcare providers and staff and families of eight Head Start centers in New York City, with positive results. 

We Can! provides adaptable tips, tools, and strategies that can be implemented in diverse settings to help families, schools, communities, organizations, and national partners and corporations in their efforts to help children maintain a healthy weight. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute collaborates with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Cancer Institute, to implement We Can!

For additional information or to arrange an interview with an NHLBI spokesperson, please contact the NHLBI Communications Office at 301-496-4236 or nhlbi_news@nhlbi.nih.gov. To schedule an interview with a CMOM spokesperson, please contact Todd McGovern at 202-721-1223 or tmcgovern@cmom.org.  

EatPlayGrow is a registered trademark of the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

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