202453 Preschool environmental and policy factors associated with physical activity

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 12:30 PM

Gabrielle M. Grode, MPH , Nutrition Department, The Food Trust, Philadelphia, PA
Kathryn E. Henderson, PhD , Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Marlene B. Schwartz, PhD , Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Introduction: Eighty-two percent of preschool aged children receive some care outside of the home; 41% are in child care for over 35 hours per week. Consequently, preschools can provide a significant amount of either vigorous or sedentary activity. Research has shown that while young children spend little time in vigorous activity, the preschool they attend can influence their physical activity levels. This study assesses the preschool policy, practice and environmental variables associated with increased physical activity.

Design: Over-sampling low-resource communities, a stratified random sample of 40 Connecticut preschools enrolled in the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program participated in the study. Childcare personnel completed a survey and were interviewed on physical activity practices and policies. Indoor and outdoor environments were assessed. Using accelerometers, objective physical activity data during one preschool day was obtained for children at the 40 sites.

Results: Hierarchical linear modeling was used to assess associations between children's physical activity levels and site-based variables, such as policy strength, equipment type, amount of structured activity, media use, and play period duration. Analyses controlled for child-level demographic variables, including race/ethnicity, gender, age, and BMI.

Conclusions: Understanding aspects of preschool environments that promote physical activity may play a key role in addressing the inactivity of young children. This study helps to identify strategies that can be easily implemented to increase preschoolers' physical activity. The research is unique as it includes a large sample of children in diverse settings and focuses on potential policy action at individual-site, state, and federal levels.

Learning Objectives:
1.Characterize children’s physical activity during preschool hours. 2.Identify the key preschool factors associated with increased levels of physical activity. 3.Describe sustainable strategies for increasing physical activity in preschools.

Keywords: Obesity, Child Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the coordinator of this research project and participated in design, implementation and analysis.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.