Child-Care Settings Opportunity to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Most states lack strong regulations on healthy eating and physical activity for child-care settings

TUESDAY, Aug. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Child-care settings can offer numerous opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity to prevent childhood obesity, but few interventions have been designed to address these issues, according to a review published online Aug. 26 in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Nicole Larson, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., from the University of Minnesota, and colleagues reviewed available literature on state regulations, practices, and policies, and examined interventions for the promotion of healthy eating and physical activity, and for reducing obesity in preschool-aged children attending child care. Reviews published between 2000 and 2010 were reviewed. Interventions implemented in the United States and international settings were included in the review. Forty-two studies were included: four reviews for state regulations, 18 for child-care practices and policies that influence eating and physical activity behavior, two for parental perceptions and practices associated with obesity prevention, and 18 evaluated interventions.

The investigators found that most states lack strong regulations for child-care settings related to healthy eating and physical activity. Opportunities for improving the nutritional quality of food provided to children, the time children spend on physical activity, caregivers' promotion of children's health behaviors, and the use of health education resources were identified in recent assessments of child-care settings. Only a few interventions were designed to address these concerns, with only two interventions successfully impacting child weight status.

"Research has identified many opportunities in childcare settings to provide better support for healthy eating and physical activity; however, there is an urgent need for additional well-designed studies to inform the implementation of effective interventions, regulations, and policies to prevent childhood obesity," the authors write.

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