Start Date: November 2011

ID #: 69551

Principal Investigator: Sara Benjamin Neelon, PhD, MPH, RD

Co-Principal Investigator: Russell Pate, PhD, MS

Organization: Duke University

Funding Round: Rapid-Response Round 4

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The preschool period is a critical time for growth and development, and healthy eating at this age can help prevent later obesity. Despite the large number of children attending center-based child care, current state policies to combat obesity in child care are inadequate. South Carolina is on the verge of implementing new mandatory nutrition standards for child-care programs that serve lower-income children. The new standards will affect centers that participate in the ABC Child Care Program, which provides subsidized child care to families with incomes below 150% of the federal poverty level. This project will support a rigorous evaluation of South Carolina’s new statewide standards to promote healthy eating in child care settings employing a quasi-experimental two-group pretest/post-test design, with North Carolina serving as the comparison state. Investigators will measure the healthy eating environments in a total of 60 centers using a researcher-administered one-day assessment, and will also assess dietary intake using direct observation among a sub-sample of children ages 3 to 5 in these centers. Assessments will be conducted both shortly before and nine months after the new standards take effect. In addition, investigators will assess the adoption and implementation of the new standards via a mailed survey to 1,000 child-care centers.

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