The article “Nutrition and Physical Activity in Child Care: Results from an Environmental Intervention” by Ward et al. (2008) presented the report on a randomized trial to assess how successful a Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Childcare program (NAP SACC) is. The background for the program and assessment was that the level of obesity among children is increasing. One-quarter of children in the United States between the age of 2 to 5 are overweight or obese according to the 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. At the same time, the authors say that ¾ of children between ages 3-6 spend time in child-care environments. Such centers are therefore, very important for intervention.
The NAP SACC program was started because there are not many obesity programs for children under 6 years of age. Programs that are available do not focus on nutrition and physical activity in order to prevent obesity in child-care centers. The purpose of this NAP SACC program is to help children maintain healthy weight. The program involves education, assistance for the workers, looking at areas that need to change on children’s nutrition, physical activity, as well as assessing the child care environmental. The program had already been tested elsewhere to see whether it is effective and possible in daycare centers. The tool that was used to assess the program is the Environment and Policy Assessments and Policy tool (EPAO). This tool looks at nutrition and physical activity in the child care center, and also looks at the rules and practices in such places.
The study was permitted by the University of California and involved licensed Child-care centers. The study used a mixed method; both qualitative and exploratory approaches in research are combined. Mixed-model ANCOVA is the statistics method that was used in looking at the effects of the program on children’s nutrition and physical activity; an exploratory analysis was used to look at the program details.
The study found that child care centers that carried out the NAP SACC program did not show much difference for physical activity for children when compared to other centers that did not carry out the program. For the nutrition aspect, Child care centers that carried out the NAP SACC program showed improvement when compared to those that did not carry out the program. Child care centers that carried out the NAP SACC program also had an environment that can support healthy weight gain for children. The conclusion of the study is that it is important to carry out nutrition and physical education activities in child care centers, but at the same time, more research has to be done to find effective ways to carry out such programs.
This article is very important because it identifies an important issue that needs to be handled in the child care centers. The article is also well-written. I have worked with the children between 16 months of age to 3 and 1/2 years for two years. Many of the children I care for were overweight. There was also not enough attention to physical activity. I believe that the childcare centers can be used to prevent obesity among children; improving the food given to them and creating activities for children can go a long way towards making sure they are healthy as children and as adults. Obesity can cause diseases like heart disease, stroke and hypertension. It can also make families poorer as they spend a lot of money on treatment. It is therefore, very important for to train childcare providers to understand how they can prevent obesity in the childcare centers.