Preschool child care could be healthier

Sept. 14, 2011 at 5:30 PM
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MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Those who provide preschool child care could do more to promote healthy eating and physical activity among young children, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Nicole Larson, a research associate at the University of Minnesota, and colleagues at the university, the Gillings School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Duke University Medical Center identified and assessed 42 relevant studies that can serve as baselines against which future progress may be measured.

Each state establishes its own set of regulations for licensed child-care facilities and sets minimum enforcement standards to assess compliance. However, the reviews indicated there is a gap between existing state regulations for child-care settings and public health recommendations.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, found strong variation among states in promoting eight key nutrition and physical activity measures in child-care settings -- Tennessee had six of the eight factors, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Nebraska and the state of Washington had none.

"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," Larson said in a statement. "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."

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