Purpose: Many children attend family child care homes (FCCHs), an important setting to influence children’s physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior (SB). This study assessed children’s PA and SB while in FCCHs, characteristics of the FCCH PA environment, and relationships between the environment and child PA and SB. Method: Children ages 1.5–4.0 years (n = 495) were recruited from 165 FCCHs in North Carolina. Children’s moderate to vigorous PA and SB were measured via accelerometry for 3 days. FCCH PA environments were assessed over 2 days using the Environment and Policy Assessment and Observation for FCCHs. Ten subscores and an overall PA environment score (possible range: 0–30) were calculated; higher scores indicate better quality. Results: Children accumulated 30 (13) minutes of moderate to vigorous PA and 143 (42) minutes of SB in FCCHs daily. FCCHs scored low on the Environment and Policy Assessment and Observation for FCCHs, with an average overall score of 13 (2). FCCHs scored highest on screen time and screen time practices subscores, and lowest on PA education/professional development and PA policy subscores. Although no statistically significant associations were observed, some large Cohen d effect sizes were noted (eg, outdoor playtime subscore and moderate to vigorous PA). Conclusions: This study highlights opportunities to improve FCCHs and increase children’s behaviors (eg, providing adequate time and outdoor play spaces).
Stephanie Mazzucca, Cody Neshteruk, Regan Burney, Amber E. Vaughn, Derek Hales, Truls Østbye and Dianne Ward
Temitope Erinosho, Derek Hales, Amber Vaughn, Stephanie Mazzucca and Dianne S. Ward
This study assessed physical activity and screen time policies in child-care centers and their associations with physical activity and screen time practices and preschool children’s (3–5 years old) physical activity.
Data were from 50 child-care centers in North Carolina. Center directors reported on the presence/absence of written policies. Trained research assistants observed physical activity and screen time practices in at least 1 preschool classroom across 3 to 4 days. Children (N = 544) wore accelerometers to provide an objective measure of physical activity.
Physical activity and screen time policies varied across centers. Observational data showed 82.7 min/d of active play opportunities were provided to children. Screen time provided did not exceed 30 min/d/child at 98% of centers. Accelerometer data showed children spent 38 min/d in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and 206 min/d in sedentary activity. Policies about staff supervision of media use were negatively associated with screen time (P < .05). Contrary to expectation, policies about physical activity were associated with less time in physical activity.
Clear strategies are needed for translating physical activity policies to practice. Further research is needed to evaluate the quality of physical activity policies, their impact on practice, and ease of operationalization.
Stephanie Mazzucca, Derek Hales, Kelly R. Evenson, Alice Ammerman, Deborah F. Tate, Diane C. Berry and Dianne S. Ward
Background: Physical activity has many benefits for young children’s health and overall development, but few studies have investigated how early care and education centers allot time for physical activity, along with measured individual physical activity levels for indoor/outdoor activities during a typical day. Methods: Fifty early care and education centers in central North Carolina participated in 4 full-day observations, and 559 children aged 3–5 years within centers wore accelerometers assessing physical activity during observation days. Observation and physical activity data were linked and analyzed for associations between child activity and type of classroom activity. Results: Children averaged 51 (13) minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity and 99 (18) minutes per day of light physical activity while in child care. Children averaged 6 (10) and 10 (13) minutes per day of observed outdoor and indoor daily teacher-led physical activity, respectively. Outdoor time averaged 67 (49) minutes per day, and physical activity levels were higher during outdoor time than during common indoor activities (center time, circle time, and TV time). Conclusions: Physical activity levels varied between indoor and outdoor class activities. Policy and program-related efforts to increase physical activity in preschoolers should consider these patterns to leverage opportunities to optimize physical activity within early care and education centers.