Effects of child care policy and environment on physical activity.
ABSTRACT Child care centers differ systematically with respect to the quality and quantity of physical activity they provide, suggesting that center-level policies and practices, as well as the center's physical environment, are important influences on children's physical activity behavior.
To summarize and critically evaluate the extant peer-reviewed literature on the influence of child care policy and environment on physical activity in preschool-aged children.
A computer database search identified seven relevant studies that were categorized into three broad areas: cross-sectional studies investigating the impact of selected center-level policies and practices on moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), studies correlating specific attributes of the outdoor play environment with the level and intensity of MVPA, and studies in which a specific center-level policy or environmental attribute was experimentally manipulated and evaluated for changes in MVPA.
Staff education and training, as well as staff behavior on the playground, seem to be salient influences on MVPA in preschoolers. Lower playground density (less children per square meter) and the presence of vegetation and open play areas also seem to be positive influences on MVPA. However, not all studies found these attributes to be significant. The availability and quality of portable play equipment, not the amount or type of fixed play equipment, significantly influenced MVPA levels.
Emerging evidence suggests that several policy and environmental factors contribute to the marked between-center variability in physical activity and sedentary behavior. Intervention studies targeting these factors are thus warranted.
Health & Place 11/2012; 18(6):1224-1230. DOI:10.1016/j.healthplace.2012.08.004 · 2.44 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: As children now spend increasing amounts of time in out-of-home care, care providers play an important role in promoting positive health behaviors. Little is currently known about providers' perceptions and beliefs about physical activity, particularly for very young children. This study describes providers' perceptions and beliefs about infants' and toddlers' physical activity, and assesses their knowledge of physical activity guidelines, to establish if and where providers may need support to promote physical activity in child care settings. We analyzed baseline data from a pilot randomized-controlled trial conducted in 32 child care centers in Massachusetts, USA. Providers completed physical activity-related questionnaires from which we compared twenty perception and belief questions for infant and toddler care providers. 203 care providers (96% female, mean ± SD age: 32.7 ± 11.2 years) from 29 centers completed questionnaires. A large proportion of providers (n = 114 (61.9%)) believed that infants should be active for 45 minutes or less each day, and only 56 providers (29.7%) perceived toddlers to require more than 90 minutes of activity per day. 97% of providers perceived it was their job to ensure children engaged in a healthy amount of physical activity and most (94.1%) perceived physical activity to be important to own their health, despite 13.3% finding it hard to find the energy to be physically active. This study is the first to assess the physical activity perceptions and attitudes of providers caring for infants and toddlers. Though all providers believed toddlers should engage in more physical activity than infants, most providers believed that young children require only a short amount of physical activity each day, below recommended guidelines. How provider perceptions influence children's physical activity behavior requires investigation.BMC Public Health 12/2015; 15(1). DOI:10.1186/s12889-015-1477-z · 2.32 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Introduction. Physical activity (PA) in preschoolers is vital to protect against obesity but is influenced by different early-life factors. The present study investigated the impact of different preschool programs and selected family factors on preschoolers' PA in different countries in an explorative way. Methods. The PA of 114 children (age = 5.3 ± 0.65 years) attending different preschool settings in four cities of the trinational Upper Rhine region (Freiburg, Landau/Germany, Basel/Switzerland, and Strasbourg/France) was measured by direct accelerometry. Anthropometrical and family-related data were obtained. Timetables of preschools were analyzed. Results. Comparing the preschool settings, children from Strasbourg and Landau were significantly more passive than children from Basel and Freiburg (P < .01). With regard to the family context as an important early-life factor, a higher number of children in a family along with the mother's and child's anthropometrical status are predictors of engagement in PA. Conclusion. More open preschool systems such as those in Basel, Freiburg, and Landau do not lead to more PA "per se" compared to the highly regimented desk-based system in France. Preliminaries such as special training and the number of caregivers might be necessary elements to enhance PA. In family contexts, targeted PA interventions for special groups should be more focused in the future.Journal of obesity 06/2014; 2014:321701. DOI:10.1155/2014/321701This article is viewable in ResearchGate's enriched formatRG Format enables you to read in context with side-by-side figures, citations, and feedback from experts in your field.