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IHS Head Start Logo Indian Health Service Head Start Program

801 Vassar Dr., NE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
Phone: (505) 248-7694
Fax: (505) 248-7728

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Home Head Start Providers Head Start Families
Nationwide Programs and Initiatives
Head Start Families

As you know you are the primary provider for your family. We look forward to providing you with information that will help us reduce the number of children at risk for diabetes, obesity, dental decay and dental caries. We hope the following information will help you understand a little more about the current challenges our children face today. We offer a few suggestions and links with information on what you may do to help Indian Health Service to make a difference in the lives of our American Indian/Alaskan Native children.

As we partner with other government agencies we hope bring an awareness of the current health challenges our Native communities face today and also offer some suggestions on what you can do to engage in our health priorities.

Our current Health Challenges are:

  • Overweight and Obesity
  • Dental Cavities
  • Injuries
  • Behavioral Health

With your help we hope to reduce the number of American Indian/Alaskan Native Families who are faced with these challenges by encouraging and setting the following Health Priorities:

  1. Healthy Eating
  2. Physical Activity
  3. Breastfeeding
  4. Oral Health Care
  5. Injury Prevention
  6. Mental Wellness/Self Esteem
  7. Environmental Health
  1. Healthy Eating is:
    • Knowing what healthy foods are,
    • Knowing how to read labels,
    • Making healthy foods visible and accessible,
    • Making sweet treats and sodas less accessible

    A healthy diet has many benefits:

    1. Healthy eating in childhood and adolescence is essential for proper growth and development.
    2. Healthy eating can prevent health problems such as obesity, diabetes and dental cavities/caries.
    3. Healthy eating is good for the body.

    Tips toward a healthy lifestyle:

    Indian Health Service Head Start Program is currently working on completing our “Healthy ABC’s Kit,” which will be sent to all Head Start and Early Head Start American Indian/Alaskan Native Grantees. The Healthy ABC Kit will be distributed for use in the classroom and includes a small book for children, a poster and teaching cards. Our ABC book helps children to learn and recognize their ABC’s using a dental health, nutrition and mental wellness approach.


  2. Physical Activity
  3. Healthy eating and physical activity habits are key to your child's well-being. Eating too much and exercising too little can lead to overweight and related health problems that can follow children into their adult years. You can take an active role in helping your child and your whole family by developing healthy eating and physical activity habits that can last for a lifetime.

    Promote and encourage physical activity by:

    • Limiting children’s T.V. time to fewer than 2 hours per day
    • Planning time with your child to ride bikes, run together, ride a scooter or play ball.
    • Participating in organized sports programs, such as: soccer, swimming, baseball/softball.

    Helpful Links


  4. Breastfeeding
  5. Benefits for Baby: (from CDC),

    • Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. A mother's milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby's growth and development. Most babies find it easier to digest breast milk than they do formula.
    • As a result, breastfed infants grow exactly the way they should. They tend to gain less unnecessary weight and to be leaner. This may result in being less overweight later in life.
    • Premature babies do better when breastfed compared to premature babies who are fed formula.
    • Breastfed babies score slightly higher on IQ tests, especially babies who were born pre-maturely.


  6. Oral Health Care
  7. You can encourage healthy teeth and a great smile by:

    • Drinking tap water
    • Snack on fruits and vegetables.
    • Chewing sugarless gum.
    • Brushing your child’s teeth before they go to bed.
    • Flossing your child’s teeth once a day.
    • Visiting a dentist twice a year.

    For more information on oral health care visit:


  8. Injury Prevention


Photo of an IHS Head Start family
Health Risks of Not Breastfeeding


Always sit in the back seat of a car. And stay safely buckled in your child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt, even for short trips.


Don’t swim without supervision from an adult or lifeguard.


This file last modified: Friday June 6, 2008  3:34 PM