The Challenge: Despite the widespread use of child care and an all-time high prevalence of obesity among preschool children, regulations that can promote healthy eating and physical activity in licensed child-care facilities are limited and vary widely among and within U.S. states.
Make an impact: Childcare settings provide numerous opportunities to promote a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
What the findings are about: This research synthesis reviews studies identifying opportunities to promote a healthy diet and regular physical activity among preschool children. It also examines outcomes of research interventions designed to prevent obesity in child-care settings.
Key Findings and Recommendations:
Regulations regarding nutrition and physical activity practices in child-care settings are limited and vary widely among and within states.
Many preschool children enrolled in child care are not getting enough physical activity.
Successful strategies for promoting healthy eating and physical activity in child-care settings include: making physical activity part of the classroom curriculum, providing healthier foods, and teaching kids and their parents healthier eating and physical activity habits.
Government agencies should encourage child-care centers and family child-care homes to provide opportunities for structured and unstructured daily physical activity, limit screen time, and encourage state licensing entities to include criteria for nutrition and wellness standards in licensing determinations.
Larson N, Ward D, Benjamin SN, Story M. Preventing Obesity Among Preschool Children: How Can Child-care Settings Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity? A Research Synthesis. Princeton, NJ: Active Living Research, a National Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; October 2011. Available from: www.activelivingresearch.org.