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Challenges and Barriers to Providing Healthy Lifestyle Opportunities in Child Care Centers

      Objective

      Child care provides an optimal environment to influence young children's relationship with nutritious food and physical activity. More than two-thirds of children between 3 and 5 years of age attend some form of child care each week. The purpose of this study was to obtain in-depth information through focus group discussions to understand child care centers' directors, teachers and staff perceived challenges and barriers to providing healthy lifestyle opportunities to preschool children in their care.

      Study Design, Setting, Participants, Intervention

      A list of licensed center-based programs in Denton County (TX) was generated from the Texas Department of Family Services website (n=234) and each center mailed a recruitment flyer. Resulting audio-taped sessions were transcribed verbatim.

      Outcome Measures and Analysis

      Five focus groups, lasting approximately 50 minutes each, were conducted with 46 Denton County (TX) child care providers (teachers, directors, cooks, and owners). The resulting transcripts were read, data unitized, coded and compared, thematically categorized and interpreted using a grounded approach.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Time, convenience, cost and lack of nutrition knowledge were major underlying themes emerging from these discussions. Findings indicate the lack of affordable, evidence-based nutrition education materials available for child care providers, parents and preschoolers. Additional findings include educating parents and providers on how to prepare budget-friendly nutritious foods for children, as well as easy-to-use methods for getting children to try new foods, was another finding. Study findings will inform future intervention research that promotes the healthy development of young children.

      Funding

      Texas Woman's University