Children in day care not physically active because of many factors, study finds


While children of all ages need physical activity to stay healthy, a recent study finds that a range of barriers prevent child care centers from offering such activities.

The three main barriers to physical activity in child care centers are injury concerns, financial constraints and a focus on academic programming, according to the study.

The findings are particularly troubling in light of rising childhood obesity rates and the fact that three-fourths of U.S. preschool-aged children spend time in child care centers. Published in the February issue of Pediatrics, the study was based on focus groups held with 49 child care providers from 34 centers in Cincinnati.

Source: American Public Health Association

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Parents are the biggest obstacle to letting kids play, says study in Pediatrics


A new report on why children in day care are sedentary suggests that it’s not the care providers, but the parents, who are mostly to blame.

The study, “Societal Values and Policies May Curtail Preschool Children’s Physical Activity in Child Care Centers,” will be published in the February issue of Pediatricsand was published online today.

It focused on childcare centers where, according to previous research, close to three-fourths of pre-school-aged America children are enrolled and where they spend only 2 to 3 percent of their time playing vigorously.

Researchers set out to find out why so little time was spent playing. They studied 34 racially and demographically diverse Cincinnati-area child-care centers and found three consistent obstacles to exercise.

Source: The Washington Post

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Four States Selected to Participate in Learning Collaborative


The National Governors Association (NGA) today announced four states—Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon and Pennsylvania—have been selected to participate in the Learning Collaborative on Integrating Chronic Disease Prevention Services with the Health Care Delivery System.

Chronic disease is a major contributor to rising health care costs in the United States, accounting for 84 percent of health care spending. To address one of the root causes of rising costs, state public health officials focus on preventive care by promoting physical activity and better nutrition, smoking cessation, screenings for cancer and diabetes and programs to help people control their blood pressure and asthma. However, these services are primarily funded through the governmental public health system, which has been cut by nearly $400 million over the last three years. While policymakers search for ways to reduce costs in the delivery system, public health dollars that contribute to preventing or mitigating one of the biggest cost drivers in the health care system are being cut.

Source: National Governor’s Association

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Preventing Obesity Among Preschool Children: How Can Child-care Settings Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity?


Poor diet and lack of physical activity are major contributors to obesity. The preschool years are a critically important period for developing healthy food preferences and motor skills. As such, experts suggest that obesity-prevention efforts begin in early childhood and have identified preventing obesity among young children as an important strategy for reversing the epidemic. All-time high rates of obesity are evident among the nation’s youngest children—more than 21 percent of preschool children are overweight or obese.

The consequences of obesity for young children and the economic toll of this epidemic are serious. Children who are obese have a greater likelihood of being obese in adulthood and developing heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Effective strategies to reduce and prevent obesity among preschool children are needed to protect children from these health consequences and avoid the future financial burden of health care expenditures.

Child-care settings provide numerous opportunities to promote healthy eating and physical activity behaviors among preschool children. The majority of U.S. children are placed in some form of non-parental care during their preschool years (Figure 1). While approximately 15 percent of preschool children are primarily cared for by their relatives, most preschoolers who spend time in non-parental care arrangements are placed in center-based care (e.g., child-care centers, preschools, Head Start programs) or a family child-care home.

Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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More Than Just Gym: Integrating Movement Across the School Day « The Whole Child Podcast « Whole Child Education


A high-quality physical education program is indisputably important, and so is ensuring that students are active across the school day and not just in gym class for 45 minutes—or worse, 20 minutes every other day. Research shows that kids who are physically active are not only healthier, but are also likely to perform better academically, and short activity breaks during the school day can improve concentration, behavior, and enhance learning. In short, school-based physical activity is valuable exercise—it aids cognitive development, increases engagement and motivation, and is essential to a whole child approach to education.

Source: Whole Child Podcast: Changing the Conversation about Education

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Head Start Body Start Intervention Has Increased Physical Activity Levels For More Than 28,000 Children


More than 1,500 grants to improve Head Start centers’ outdoor play spaces and educate staff, children and their families about the value of physical activity and playing outdoors, have led to a dramatic increase in the outdoor activity levels of more than 28,000 preschool children over the past three years, say officials from Head Start Body Start National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play (HSBS), an initiative of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD). Outdoor play helps young children to connect with the natural world, while tapping into many health benefits, including increased moderate to vigorous activity, vitamin D exposure, increased immunity and better sleep as well as playing more creatively.

In a report summarizing the initiative’s first three years of operation, HSBS officials announced that some 28,310 children at 1,547 Head Start centers around the country benefited from having new playground equipment or enhanced outdoor play spaces as a result of the HSBS grants.  And upwards of 75 percent of the parents of those children and staff members reported that the grants increased the amount of time that the children spent playing outdoors. Overall, HSBS found that physical activity among children at the centers increased by 17 percent.

Source: Head Start Body Start

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School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

During the last 3 decades, the prevalence of obesity has tripled among persons aged 6–19 years. Multiple chronic disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and high blood glucose levels are related to obesity. Schools have a responsibility to help prevent obesity and promote physical activity and healthy eating through policies, practices, and supportive environments.

This report describes school health guidelines for promoting healthy eating and physical activity, including coordination of school policies and practices; supportive environments; school nutrition services; physical education and physical activity programs; health education; health, mental health, and social services; family and community involvement; school employee wellness; and professional development for school staff members. These guidelines, developed in collaboration with specialists from universities and from national, federal, state, local, and voluntary agencies and organizations, are based on an in-depth review of research, theory, and best practices in healthy eating and physical activity promotion in school health, public health, and education. Because every guideline might not be appropriate or feasible for every school to implement, individual schools should determine which guidelines have the highest priority based on the needs of the school and available resources.

Source: Division of Adolescent and School Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

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Building Healthier Communities: How healthcare professionals are fighting childhood obesity outside the clinic walls

Nearly one-third of children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese. This epidemic takes its greatest toll on children living in underserved communities. Many of these children are developing diseases that until now were only seen in adults, including Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Their weight is also putting them at a disproportionate risk for heart disease, stroke, and cancers.

It is easy for healthcare professionals to feel overwhelmed by the toll this epidemic is taking. They may feel frustrated when they talk with patients and their families about the importance of physical activity only to hear that local schools have slashed physical education programs. They may give advice about eating a healthy diet only to hear that patients and clients don’t have a grocery store in their neighborhood. They emphasize exercise only to discover that the streets are too dangerous for biking and walking.

Source: National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality

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IM 11-02 Salud física y desarrollo – Head Start

Head Start continúa reconociendo el importante papel que desempeña la salud física en el desarrollo del niño y para crear las bases de la preparación escolar, según muestran los requisitos de la Ley de Mejoras a Head Start para la Preparación Escolar de 2007. A principios de este año, la Oficina Nacional de Head Start (OHS, por sus siglas en inglés) publicó el Marco de Head Start para el desarrollo y el aprendizaje temprano de los niños (el Marco), el cual resume las áreas esenciales de desarrollo y aprendizaje que deberán ser usadas por los programas de Head Start para determinar los objetivos de preparación escolar para sus niños. El primer dominio del marco, el desarrollo físico y la salud, se refiere al bienestar físico, empleo del cuerpo, control sobre los músculos y nutrición adecuada, ejercicio, higiene y normas de seguridad.

via IM 11-02 Salud física y desarrollo – Head Start.

Child-care facilities can do more to promote healthy eating and physical activity among preschoolers


Eating and physical activity habits for a lifetime can develop at an early age. As the use of preschool child care increases and the prevalence of childhood obesity is at an all-time high, the opportunity to positively impact eating and exercise habits within this setting presents itself. A review in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association describes and evaluates research addressing opportunities and strategies for the prevention of obesity among preschool children in child-care settings. It examines the current status of state regulations, practices and policies, and interventions for promoting healthy eating and physical activity.

“Early prevention is considered to be the most promising strategy for reducing obesity and the many serious health conditions that may result as a consequence of excessive weight gain in childhood,” commented lead author Nicole Larson, PhD, MPH, RD, Research Associate in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota. “Eating and activity behaviors formed during the preschool years have the potential to prevent obesity in the short term, and if carried into adulthood, to set the stage for a lifetime of better health. The majority of U.S. parents depend on child-care providers to support the development of healthful behaviors by providing their young children with nutritious foods and regular physical activity…Significant improvements in the eating and activity behaviors of preschool children will likely depend on the combined strength of interventions and supportive policy changes.

Source: Elsevier Health Sciences

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