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Nutrition and physical activity in child care centers: The impact of a wellness policy initiative on environment and policy assessment and observation outcomes, 2011
Lyn, Rodney S., 23 May, 2013
Preventing Chronic Disease, 10(),

The child care environment has emerged as an ideal setting in which to implement policies that promote healthy body weight of children. The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of a wellness policy and training program on the physical activity and nutrition environment in 24 child care centers in Georgia. Methods: We used the Environment and Policy Assessment and Observation instrument to identify changes to foods served, staff behaviors, and physical activity opportunities. Observations were performed over 1 day, beginning with breakfast and concluding when the program ended for the day. Observations were conducted from February 2010 through April 2011 for a total of 2 observations in each center. Changes to nutrition and physical activity in centers were assessed on the basis of changes in scores related to the physical activity and nutrition environment documented in the observations. Paired t test analyses were performed to determine significance of changes. Results: Significant improvements to total nutrition (P < .001) and physical activity scores (P < .001) were observed. Results indicate that centers significantly improved the physical activity environments of centers by enhancing active play (P = .02), the sedentary environment (P = .005), the portable environment (P = .002), staff behavior (P = .004), and physical activity training and education (P < .001). Significant improvements were found for the nutrition environment (P < .001), and nutrition training and education (P < .001). Conclusion: Findings from this study suggest that implementing wellness policies and training caregivers in best practices for physical activity and nutrition can promote healthy weight for young children in child care settings. (author abstract)

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Road to readiness: Pathways from low-income children's early interactions to school readiness skills
Martoccio, Tiffany L., July-September 2014
Infants and Young Children, 27(3), 193-206

This study utilized data from the Michigan component of the National Early Head Start Research and Evaluation study to examine toddlers' joint attention at 14 months (parent report measure of toddlers' initiating behaviors, e.g., extends arm to show you something he or she is holding, reaches out and gives you a toy he or she has been holding, and points at something interesting) as a mediator of the relations between early mother-child interactions (e.g., mother and child behaviors in response to one another's cues) and later school readiness skills in a low-income sample (N = 127 mother-child dyads). Understanding relations between early parent-child interactions, joint attention, and later school readiness skills is critical to identifying developmental paths of economically at-risk children. Results showed that toddlers' joint attention behaviors at 14 months partially mediated the path between mother-child interaction at 14 months and later school readiness, measured by children's emotion regulation, social-cognition, language development, and literacy and mathematics academic outcomes, at approximately 5 years of age. Results suggest the important roles of early mother-child interactions in low-income families and joint attention in promoting school readiness skills. (author abstract)

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Research Connections is supported by grant #90YE0104 from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents are solely the responsibility of the National Center for Children in Poverty and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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