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Head Start wellness policy intervention in Hawaii: A project of the Children's Healthy Living Program

Background: The increased prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity across the United States and the Pacific has become a serious public health concern, with especially high prevalence among Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) children. This study aimed to measure the effect of a Head Start (HS) policy intervention for childhood obesity prevention. Methods: Twenty-three HS classrooms located in Hawaii participated in the trial of a 7-month policy intervention with HS teachers. Classroom- and child-level outcome assessments were conducted, including: the Environment and Policy Assessment and Observations (EPAO) of the classroom environment; plate waste observations to assess child intake of fruit and vegetables; and child growth. Results: The intervention showed a positive and significant effect on classroom EPAO physical activity (PA) and EPAO total scores. Although mean BMI z-score (zBMI) increased at postintervention for both intervention (mean = 0.60; standard deviation[SD], 1.16; n = 114) and delayed-intervention groups (mean = 0.35; SD, 1.17; n = 132), change in zBMI was not significantly different between the groups ( p = 0.50; p = 0.48).Conclusions: These findings contribute evidence on the potential for HS wellness policy to improve the PA environment of HS classrooms. More research is needed to link these policy changes to other child outcomes. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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