Preventing Obesity in the Child Care Setting: Evaluating State Regulations also lists the 20 model healthy eating and physical activity regulations and the individual state rankings for healthy eating and physical activity regulations for each state.
Benjamin Neelon disseminated the report at conferences where she made presentations, such as at "Healthy Kids, Healthy Future: Promising Practices and Policies for Obesity Prevention and Health Promotion in Early Care and Education," a 2009 conference sponsored by RWJF, the Nemours Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
Benjamin Neelon and her colleagues also developed individual report cards for each state, with an overall grade, separate grades for healthy eating and physical activity regulations, highlights of state strengths and weaknesses, brief findings from the nationwide study, and the 20 model healthy eating and physical activity regulations. She sent the state report cards to the appropriate officials in each state, and posted them online with the report and the model healthy eating and physical activity regulations.
One of the challenges in the study, according to Benjamin Neelon, is that states are continually updating their regulations. She called her data a "snap shot in time" but believes the study continues to have an impact; in 2011, she still receives calls from health departments, researchers and key state officials who want to understand how state regulations impact food served to children in child care.
Benjamin Neelon cautions, however, "that we have to be mindful of the financial ramifications of asking child-care facilities to spend more money on healthy food. If we make a regulation that requires child-care facilities to serve better food, we are straining the child-care facility and those additional costs could get passed on to parents or put some centers out of business."
Afterward. Benjamin Neelon joined the faculty at Duke University in 2009, where she continues to research children, healthy eating and physical activity. In 2011, she received an RWJF Active Living Research grant to evaluate a community campaign in North Carolina to encourage children and adults to be physically active. Their focus is on elementary school children. Active Living Research supports research to identify environmental factors and policies that influence physical activity. For more information see the Program Results Report.
Benjamin Neelon also notes that the researchers involved in Healthy Eating Research have created a national network of researchers interested in promoting healthy eating and physical activity in child-care facilities and often work together to publish their findings.
Benjamin Neelon served on an Institute of Medicine panel that produced a Consensus Report in June 2011, Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies.
RWJF perspective. The Healthy Eating Research program is part of the Foundation's efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015. These efforts include improving access to affordable, healthy foods and increasing opportunities for physical activity in schools and communities across the nation.
"The Healthy Eating Research Program provides decision-makers and key policy-makers with evidence they can use to improve children's nutrition and access to healthy foods," says C. Tracy Orleans, PhD, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation senior scientist.
"Working in collaboration with other national research funders, we are working to build solid evidence for action, with a major focus on understanding and changing the policy and environmental drivers of childhood obesity epidemic, with a focus on the lower-income and racial/ethnic communities at highest risk. Our goal is to fund rigorous, solution-oriented studies, to build a diverse and robust network of researchers, and communicate findings effectively to inform policy and guide action. Dr. Mary Story's pioneering vision and leadership are critical to the program's success and national progress towards reversing the childhood obesity epidemic."