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.
U.S. News ranks city high schools in state’s Top 10
All three Edmond high schools are ranked among the Top 10 in the state in a prestigious national list.
U.S. News & World Report, which publishes annual rankings, ranked Edmond North No. 3 in Oklahoma and No. 437 nationwide. Memorial ranked No. 6 in Oklahoma and No. 847 nationwide. Santa Fe ranked No. 8 in Oklahoma and No. 1,075 nationwide.
“This recognition serves as validation for our students, parents and staff members at all levels who work together relentlessly in pursuit of academic excellence, Edmond Public Schools Superintendent David Goin said.
OC expands to 5 academic colleges
Oklahoma Christian University will expand from three to five colleges beginning with the 2014-15 academic year.
OC’s five academic colleges will be the College of Biblical Studies, the College of Business Administration, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Natural and Health Sciences.
“Our academic and leadership teams have been planning, praying and discussing how to build on OC’s legacy of exceptional success in science, engineering and business,” said Scott LaMascus, vice president for academic affairs. “Our new colleges will focus on growth in these areas and implement strategic planning to help us serve more students.”
Deer Creek students see bionic suit in action
In 2010, a car accident left Guthrie resident Mary Beth Davis paralyzed from the waist down.
In a few weeks, thanks to INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation, determination and an Ekso Bionics suit, she will be walking across a stage to receive a college diploma from Oklahoma State University.
Wednesday afternoon, Davis was at Deer Creek Middle School where students of teacher Jamie Brehm got to see Davis and the suit in action and learn about how it helps people live a fuller life.
Brehm said the opportunity to have the demonstration fit perfectly with the testing schedule. Brehm said a bonus was having Davis with her inspirational story come to the school. In addition to graduating soon, Davis lives an independent life and she was recently crowned Ms. Wheelchair Oklahoma.
Be on the lookout for termites
Warming temperatures and spring rainfall means swarming conditions for the homeowners’ nemesis in Oklahoma — the termite.
Termites are Mother Nature’s way of recycling dead wood, as well as aerating the soil and increasing its fertility and water percolation. They are an important food source for other insects, spiders, reptiles, amphibians and birds within the food web, and they are essential for the wellbeing of the environment.
Central community learns about water conservation
Edmond residents know about rain that falls from their roofs after a storm. Some may not know what kind of important role it plays in the nation’s water supply.
Tim Tillman, the University of Central Oklahoma’s sustainability coordinator, said UCO has a tradition of innovation in sustainable practices. Tillman said Earth Day, first brought to the campus more than 20 years ago, began that tradition.
During Tuesday’s Earth Day Fair, Jason Summers, a Coca-Cola account manager for on-premise sales, was giving away rain barrels and educating members of the Central Oklahoma community about the benefits of rain barrels.
Accountability push for public schools now in question
One by one, K-12 education reforms passed in previous years by Oklahoma lawmakers are being targeted for weakening or repeal.
Among them: Common Core State Standards, the Reading Sufficiency Act, A-F school grades for districts, and middle-school end-of-instruction exams for history and social studies. These could all be scaled back or revoked by various legislative bills that have passed in both the House and Senate.
State suspends student testing over glitches
Computer glitches forced state education officials to suspend online testing Monday, affecting student testing in Edmond and Deer Creek.
State Superintendent Janet Barresi said as a result of online testing disruptions for students in grades 6-8 and high school end-of-instruction (EOIs) exams she directed testing vendor CTB/McGraw Hill to suspend online testing for the day.
“We certainly share in the frustration that students and school districts feel,” Barresi said. “It is of paramount importance that CTB finds the nature of the problem and resolves it as quickly as possible.”
Guthrie board calls for Common Core repeal
A resolution recently passed by the Guthrie school board calling for the repeal of Common Core standards has attracted the attention and support of several state legislators.
State Reps. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, Dale DeWitt, R-Braman, Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, and state Sen. AJ Griffin, R-Guthrie, praised the school board for weighing in on the Oklahoma Legislature’s pending action to repeal state-issued Common Core standards.
Touch-A-Truck event draws families to UCO
Edmond Electric and Edmond Vehicle Maintenance are co-hosting the Edmond Touch-A-Truck from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 17 in the UCO parking lot off Second Street. Touch-A-Truck is a fundraising event that provides children of all ages with the opportunity to experience life-size vehicles and interact with community support leaders like police officers, firemen, construction workers and many more. Families will have the opportunity for a hands-on exploration of many vehicles such as Edmond’s own fire trucks and police cars, an Edmond Electric bucket truck and even a solid waste truck.
Admission for the Touch-A-Truck event is a suggested $2 donation with the proceeds going to the Edmond HOPE Center. For more information, contact Edmond Electric at 216-7671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Biggest student loan profits come from grad students
This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.
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