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Physical Activity in Child Care Settings: Research Findings & Policy Implications

Tuesday, June 16, 2010, 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET

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The Health Resources and Services Administrations Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) is pleased to announce an upcoming DataSpeak program titled Physical Activity in Child Care Settings: Research Findings and Policy Implications. Physical activity in young children is important for their immediate health and well-being as well as their future health in adulthood. Physical activity can help to lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease (such as high blood pressure), strengthen bones, protect against diabetes, and strengthen self-esteem. In the United States, 62 percent of preschool children with working mothers were enrolled in full- or part-time child care in 2002. Those 3- to 6-year-olds who attend child care centers spend an average of 24.8 hours per week there. Therefore, child care settings provide a crucial opportunity to support and promote physical activity and establish good health habits for life.

For this DataSpeak program, Dr. Russell Pate, Professor in the Department of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina, will describe childrens physical activity behaviors and patterns in preschool settings, based on direct observation and accelerometry data collection methods. He will also discuss the results from recently published work examining factors associated with preschoolers activity levels, including cross sectional analysis of both the childrens demographic characteristics and attributes of child care centers. Dr. Dianne Stanton Ward, professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, will discuss her research-based findings on best practice guidelines for increasing physical activity in preschool-aged children. Focusing on child care settings, she will review opportunities and barriers to increasing activity, with a focus on the key roles of the environment and teachers and other staff who are the direct care providers in these settings. Finally, Dr. James Sallis, professor of psychology at San Diego State University and director of Active Living Research for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will close by summarizing research findings from recent national and community-based studies funded by the Active Living Research program. He will also identify opportunities for enhancing physical activity opportunities in early childhood through policy change and future research needs in this area.