Day care centers are a great place to start in the prevention of childhood obesity.
Research out of the University of Oklahoma College of Allied Health provides insights into Oklahoma Child Care Centers and the part they play in the health of pre-school children.
“We wanted to understand practices and poiicies, academic readiness and behaviorial outcomes,” said Susan Sisson, Ph.D., assistant professor in the college’s Department of Nutritional Sciences at the OU Health Sciences Center. “We need to know what is ongong before we recommend a change.”
A research survey of 57 questions was sent to 703 child care directors and 314 directors completed and returned the surveys. The survey questions were directed toward the nutrition and physical activity provided by the day cares during the course of a child’s day.
Although all state-licensed child care centers are required to meet regulations related to the safety of the child including the food they are served and the equipment they play on, few regulations exist relating to the health of the child and the prevention of obesity, Sisson said.
“Understanding what regulations do exist and where those can be improved can likely help reduce and prevent the high levels of overweight and obesity in preschool children in our state,” Sisson said.
She added 31 percent of low-income preschoolers in Oklahoma are overweight or obese, and many of these children spend at least a part of their days in child care.
It is estimated that about six in ten children in this country spend time in child care facilities from infancy to six years of age. In Oklahoma more than 1,300 day-care facilities provide care for 3- to 5-year olds.
In an effort to learn more about existing nutritional and physical activity policies and practices at state-licensed child care centers in Oklahoma, Sisson surveyed hundreds of child care directors seeking insights and information. Of the 57 questions on the survey, about two-thirds of the questions focused on nutrition and the other third focused on physical activity.
“We wanted to find out what was occurring in their facility,” Sisson said. “How often were the kids going outside? What kinds of foods were they served?”
Overall, researchers found the centers reported some good practices when it came to nutrition. Fruit was served daily by 76 percent of the centers responding; 71 percent served non-fried vegetables daily; and virtually all (92 percent) rarely or never served sugary drinks to the children for whom they cared.
While those statistics are encouraging, Sisson said there is still room for improvement.
“I think centers can certainly improve in decreasing the amount of fruit juice that’s served, and increasing the amount and variety of vegetables, other than potatoes and corn, that are served,” she said. Sisson said she would like to see more nutrient-rich vegetables like asparagus, peppers, broccoli and cauliflower added to the centers’ menus, and she would like to see the fiber content increased in foods consumed.
Sisson said the overall amount of time spent outdoors and in active play was inadequate. With 95 percent of the centers responding to the survey reporting outdoor play opportunities were provided at least once a day, Sisson felt the time outside needed to be increased.
It is important to send children with appropriate clothes, shoes and coats so they can go outside to play when the time is made available, Sisson said.
In addition to providing more outside time playing, Sisson said she would like see care centers provide structured curriculum showing how being active can help build strong bones and healthy bodies.
Sisson said the survey reveals that it is vital for childcare centers and their teachers to create an environment that supports healthy weight in children.
“There is very little training for teaching about healthy activity and nutrition,” Sisson said.
Sisson and her team of graduate students have already visited about 20 Oklahoma centers to make on-site assessments.
Sisson said the next step is teachers and parents discussing policy.
Parents should ask questions concerning how much time is devoted to exercise during the day as well as what types of food and drink are being offered to their child, Sisson said.
The survey results were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Day care centers are a great place to start in the prevention of childhood obesity.
Dr. Fielding’s variance denied by close vote
Reverse-angle parking will continue at the 13 N. University Drive office of Dr. Brad Fielding. The Edmond City Council rejected a variance request by the local optometrist to end the city’s pilot project in front of his medical facility.
Councilman Nick Massey and Councilwoman Victoria Caldwell supported Fielding’s variance request that was dismissed in a 3-2 vote.
Four parking lines were striped late last year at Fielding’s business after the city opened new bicycle lanes along University. The city cites the safety for bicyclists and motorists who traditionally depart while backing into traffic as the main reasons for introducing reverse-angle parking.
Sequoyah names students of the month
Sequoyah teachers chose the following students as students of the month for being good role models, conscientious students, diligent workers, and respectful individuals
OCU planning Earth Day activities
Oklahoma City University will celebrate Earth Day with events on April 22. The events are free to the public and will be in the McDaniel University Center near Florida Avenue and Northwest 26th Street.
Student newspaper, magazines take top honors at contest
Ruff Draft, the student newspaper produced by staffs at all three Edmond high schools, recently took top honors in the Oklahoma Scholastic Media competition, which is conducted in coordination with the Gaylord School of Journalism at the University of Oklahoma.
UCO puts the spotlight on design graduates
The University of Central Oklahoma Department of Design will present “Defeaters of Dull: The Design Senior Show” from 6-8 p.m. April 17 at the First National Center, 120 N. Robinson Ave., Suite 730W, in downtown Oklahoma City.
Gala to celebrate global programs
The University of Central Oklahoma’s Office of Global Affairs will present the International House Night Market Gala from 6-9 p.m. April 18 at the UCO International House, 912 N. Chowning Ave. in Edmond, just north of the main campus.
Now in its second year, the gala’s 2014 theme is “A Fusion of Art and Cultural Storytelling.”
Attendees will enjoy dinner, live and silent auctions, entertainment and the presentation of the award for Promoting Cross-Cultural Understanding to Pam Washington, Ph.D., dean of Central’s College of Fine Arts and Design, as well as the recognition of Zhongying Wang, president of Tiptop Energy Production US LLC, as a top contributor to Cross-Cultural Understanding.
Oklahoma Christian presents band, orchestra concerts
The Oklahoma Christian University music department will present its final instrumental concerts of the school year next week.
500-plus Edmond students visit safety village
More than 500 local students have learned about safety from Edmond firefighters in recent days.
Mid-day Friday, students from Washington Irving Elementary School were at the Edmond Fire Department’s Children’s Safety Village, a child-size, life safety education center where children learn in a hands-on environment. The village is complete with a city park, buildings, streets, traffic lights, a railroad crossing, a water feature and utility-like infrastructure.
Edmond student named National Achievement Scholarship winner
National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced this week the names of about 800 outstanding Black American high school seniors who have won Achievement Scholarship® awards through the National Achievement Scholarship Program. These awards, totaling more than $2 million, are financed by grants from 31 corporate organizations and professional associations, and by National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
Perry takes on Summit principal position
Shana Perry was named the new principal of Summit Middle School starting for the 2014-15 school year. The Edmond Board of Education voted on the personnel change at its regularly scheduled meeting Monday.
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