(HealthDay News) – Introducing wellness policies and training caregivers in best practices for nutrition and physical activity improves the care environment for young children, according to research published online May 23 in Preventing Chronic Disease.

Rodney Lyn, PhD, of Georgia State University in Atlanta, and colleagues evaluated the effect of a wellness policy and training program on the nutrition and physical activity environment in 24 child care centers in Georgia. Observations from breakfast through the end of the day were conducted on two separate occasions at each center from February 2010 through April 2011. Changes to food, staff behaviors, and physical activity were recorded using the Environment and Policy Assessment and Observation instrument.

The researchers observed significant improvements in total nutrition and physical activity scores. Significant changes involving active play, the sedentary environment, the portable environment, staff behavior, and education and training all contributed to improving the physical activity environment at child care centers. Significant improvements in nutrition training and education and the nutrition environment also were observed.

“The child care setting provides a host of opportunities to improve the nutrition and physical activity environment. The findings of this study suggest that wellness policies implemented by child care center staff may contribute to a healthier child care environment,” the authors write.

Full Text