Studying the impact of the child-care setting on childhood obesity

The prevalence of obesity and overweight in young children is increasing dramatically. Because major behavioral and physiological patterns underlying obesity and overweight are established by the time children start elementary school, early intervention to prevent overweight and its behavioral and environmental determinants must be a priority. Little is known about the early environmental influences on children's overweight/obesity outside of the family, including in the child care settings to which so many children ages three to five years old are exposed. Existing data provide only limited information about child care-related environmental and policy determinants of physical activity, dietary and weight patterns, and adiposity development, and the timing of adiposity rebound among children ages three to seven. The purpose of this project is to analyze data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Cohort--a unique data set that contains direct measurements of children's height and weight along with information on participation in early childhood programs--to assess the features (policies, settings, physical activity and feeding practices) of child care settings that mediate the relationship between family background and children's overweight/obesity at the beginning of kindergarten through the end of first grade. These relationships will be explored for children in a variety of racial/ethnic and income groups. The research will: (1) inform program policies; (2) provide guidance about which settings should be targeted for family-centered interventions; and (3) contribute to the development of effective environmental approaches to obesity prevention in young children. Project deliverables will include a publishable summary of research results and a policy forum that will convene experts and practitioners involved in child care, physical activity and nutrition programs for young children to discuss the findings, policy implications and recommendations for future research and interventions. Research results and forum proceedings will be disseminated in varied formats (policy briefs and fact sheets) to reach audiences including researchers, policy-makers, parents, the public and other key stakeholders.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $190,364.00

Awarded on: 7/5/2006

Time frame: 7/1/2006 - 6/30/2009

Grant Number: 56478


University of Washington, Office of Sponsored Programs

4333 Brooklyn Avenue, N.W.
Box 359472
Seattle, 98195-9472


Donna B. Johnson
Project Director