Child Care as an Untapped Setting for Obesity Prevention

State Child Care Licensing Regulations Related to Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Media Use for Preschool-Aged Children in the United States

As the incidence of obesity increases across the United States, a need arises for policy-makers to consider this issue in the child-care setting. Childhood is an important period for developing dietary and physical activity behaviors that will impact future health. This study considers state policies related to food intake and physical activity in child-care settings. The authors examine three different settings: (1) child-care centers (CCCs); (2) small family child-care homes SFHs); and (3) large family or group child-care homes (LFGHs). Data were collected from the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education and child-care licensing Web sites from each state government.

The study found:

  • CCCs were the most heavily regulated for dietary requirements and physical activity followed by LFGHs and then SFHs.
  • Only 12 states had rules that limited the serving of food with low nutritional value.
  • 36 states required that children in CCCs had daily physical activity time.
  • Most states and most settings set per day limits for screen time (television, computer, video use).

Policy-makers might tackle these inconsistencies in state regulations in their efforts to address the obesity epidemic.

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