215069 Promoting healthy eating and physical activity in child care: Challenges and opportunities

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 8:30 AM - 8:45 AM

Lorrene Ritchie, PhD, RD , Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Center for Weight and Health, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Maria Boyle, MS, RD , Samuels & Associates, Oakland, CA
Kumar Chandran, MS, MPH , California Food Policy Advocates, Oakland, CA
Sarah Samuels, DrPH , Samuels & Associates, Oakland, CA
Pat Crawford, RD, DrPH , Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Center for Weight and Health, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Shannon E. Whaley, PhD , Special Projects Division, PHFE-WIC, Irwindale, CA
Kenneth Hecht, JD , California Food Policy Advocates, Oakland, CA
Compared to schools, childcare has received less research and policy focus on obesity prevention. Yet, a growing body of research highlights the importance of developing healthy habits and combating obesity at the youngest ages. We undertook a multi-method research project to determine the extent to which nutrition and physical activity (PA) practices in childcare meet needs for obesity prevention and to identify challenges and opportunities for policy improvements in this field. A statewide survey of a range of licensed childcare settings revealed that sites participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) served higher quality nutrition than non-CACFP sites with HeadStart sites generally providing the highest quality nutrition. Lunches brought from home were lower quality than lunches provided by childcare sites. High food costs were identified by providers as the greatest challenge to providing better nutrition. Identified areas for improvement included the provision of water and lower fat milk, more whole grains, and higher quality produce. On average, only 53% of sites reported providing more than 60 minutes per day of PA. Compared to centers, family homes devoted more time to TV watching and had less facilities and equipment, less frequently had written policy on PA, and provided less training for staff and parents on PA. Stakeholders agreed that CACFP standards should be strengthened. Findings from this research and the policy recommendations that emerged could significantly impact national and state efforts to provide healthier nutrition and PA environments to children in childcare.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the nutrition and physical activity environments offered to young children in a variety of licensed childcare settings and identify the differences between types of childcare setting and according to participation in the federal nutrition program for childcare, the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). 2. Identify challenges to offering nutritious foods and beverages and physical activity in childcare settings. 3. Explain priority policy strategies that may improve the nutritional quality of the foods and opportunities for physical activity offered in childcare programs at state and federal levels. 4. Identify current opportunities, resources, and programs for improving nutrition and physical activity in childcare.

Keywords: Child Care, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I managed and participated in much of the data collection and analysis for this project and have worked in public health research, evaluation and policy for over 10 years.
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.