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Green Mountain Healthy Kids Challenge in Childcare Centers

It is important for children to develop positive nutrition and physical activity behaviors at an early age. Research shows that the younger a child becomes overweight or obese, the higher likelihood that weight concerns will still be prevalent in adolescence and adulthood. Childcare centers need ongoing training and financial support to effectively implement wellness policies which create best practices designed to improve young children’s food choices and physical activity levels.

The Green Mountain Healthy Kids Challenge enrolled 31 childcare centers across Vermont in a one-year program aimed at increasing opportunities for children to improve their nutrition and physical activity-related behaviors. Participating childcare centers attended daylong workshops at the beginning and end of the project, and were each matched with a mentor who provided support throughout the year in one or more of five focal areas including 1) nutrition standards; 2) nutrition education; 3) eating environment; 4) physical activity; and 5) communication, promotion and monitoring. Pre-post assessments showed a number of improvements.

Change over the course of the year was measured across many areas. Some of the results include data showing that 74 percent of the participating centers demonstrated an overall improvement in their menus in areas related to fruits, vegetables, whole grains and/or lean meats. Additionally, 64 percent of the centers had improved wellness policies at the end of the intervention, compared to program onset. Children now and in the future in these childcare centers have a greater chance of being healthier than others not having this access and research-informed wellness policies.

1) Guo, S. S., & Chumlea, W. C. (1999). Tracking of body mass index in children in relation to overweight in adulthood. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70(1), 145S-148S

Contact: Linda Berlin, Nutrition Specialist, 802-656-0669, linda.berlin@uvm.edu

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