Evaluation of Nutrition and Physical Activity Policies and Practices in Child Care Centers within Rural Communities.
Sommaire de l'article
Although some researchers have examined nutrition and physical activity policies within urban child care centers, little is known about the potentially unique needs of rural communities.
Child care centers serving preschool children located within low-income rural communities (n=29) from seven states (Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) were assessed to determine current nutrition and physical activity (PA) practices and policies. As part of a large-scale childhood obesity prevention project, the Community Healthy Living Index's previously validated Early Childhood Program Assessment Tool was used to collect data. Descriptive statistical analysis was conducted to identify high-priority areas. Healthy People 2020 and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' recommendations for nutrition and PA policies in child care centers were used as benchmarks.
Reports of not fully implementing (<80% of the time) recommended nutrition-related policies or practices within rural early child care centers were identified. Centers not consistently serving a variety of fruits (48%), vegetables (45%), whole grains (41%), limiting saturated fat intake (31%), implementing healthy celebration guidelines (41%), involving children in mealtime (62%), and referring families to nutrition assistance programs (24%) were identified. More than one third of centers also had limited structured PA opportunities. Although eligible, only 48% of the centers participated in the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
Overall, centers lacked parental outreach, staff training, and funding/resources to support nutrition and PA. These results provide insight into where child care centers within low-income, rural communities may need assistance to help prevent childhood obesity.