Evaluating the effectiveness of mandatory state nutrition standards for child-care programs

The Foundation's program, Healthy Eating Research: Building Evidence to Prevent Childhood Obesity, was designed to support investigator-initiated research to identify and assess environmental and policy influences with the greatest potential to improve healthy eating and weight patterns among the nation's children.The preschool period is a critical time for growth and development, and healthy eating at this age can help prevent later obesity. Despite the large number of children attending center-based child care, current state policies to combat obesity in child care are inadequate. South Carolina is on the verge of implementing new mandatory nutrition standards for child-care programs that serve lower-income children. The new standards will affect centers that participate in the ABC Child Care Program, which provides subsidized child care to families with incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. This grant supports a rigorous evaluation of South Carolina's new statewide standards to promote healthy eating in child care settings employing a quasi-experimental two-group, pre-test/post-test design, with North Carolina serving as the comparison state. Investigators will measure the healthy eating environments in a total of 60 centers using a researcher-administered, one-day assessment, and will also assess dietary intake using direct observation among a sub-sample of children ages 3 to 5 in these centers. Assessments will be conducted both shortly before and nine months after the new standards take effect. In addition, investigators will assess the adoption and implementation of the new standards via a mailed survey to 1,000 child-care centers. Deliverables include print and media summary reports, summary of findings posted to a website, presentations to various stakeholder groups, and scientific publications.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $149,988.00

Awarded on: 10/18/2011

Time frame: 11/15/2011 - 5/14/2013

Grant Number: 69551


Duke University Medical Center

2301 Erwin Road
Durham, 27705-4699


Sara E. Benjamin-Neelon
Project Director


Russell R. Pate
Project Director