Cluster randomized trial of the impact of an obesity prevention intervention on child care center nutrition and physical activity environment over two years

Ruby Natale, Folefac D. Atem, Cynthia Lebron, M. Sunil Mathew, Sitara M. Weerakoon, Catherina Chang Martinez, Karla P. Shelnutt, Rachel Spector, Sarah E. Messiah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The prevalence of obesity among preschool-aged children in the United States remains unacceptably high. Here we examine the impact of Healthy Caregivers-Healthy Children (HC2) Phase 2, a child care center (CCC)-based obesity prevention intervention on changes in the CCC nutrition and physical activity environment over two school years. Design: This was a cluster randomized trial with 12 CCC receiving the HC2 intervention arm and 12 in the control arm. The primary outcome was change in the Environment and Policy Assessment and Observation (EPAO) tool over two school years (Fall-2015, Spring-2016 and Spring-2017). Changes in EPAO physical activity and nutrition score were analyzed via a (1) random effects mixed models and (2) mixed models to determine the effect of HC2 versus control. Setting: The study was conducted in 24 CCCs serving low-income, ethnically diverse families in Miami-Dade County. Participants: Intervention CCCs received (1) teachers/parents/children curriculum; (2) snack, beverage, physical activity, and screen time policies; and (3) menu modifications. Results: Two-year EPAO nutrition score changes in intervention CCCs were almost twice that of control CCCs. The EPAO physical activity environment scores only slightly improved in intervention CCCs versus control CCCs. Intervention CCCs showed higher combined EPAO physical activity and nutrition scores compared to control CCCs over the 2-year study period (β=0.09, P=0.05). Conclusions: Obesity prevention programs can have a positive impact on the CCC nutrition environment and can promote healthy weight in early childhood. CCCs may need consistent support to improve the physical activity environment to ensure the policies remain intact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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