Preschoolers In Family Child Care Homes Need More Activity
Young children enrolled in family child care homes are unlikely to be meeting physical activity recommendations for their age group, according to research released today at the 55th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Privately owned and operated family child care homes, as the second largest child care provider, may need to assess the opportunities and programs for preschoolers to be active based on these results.
Almost 12 million children under the age of five are in some type of child care, with family child care homes accounting for nearly a quarter of all child care facilities. This small study focused on an objective measurement of physical activity levels in 2- to 4-year-old children in this private setting in seven different, unrelated homes. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) indicate that 26 percent of U.S. children in this age group are overweight or obese.
Twenty-seven preschoolers (12 boys, 15 girls) wore an accelerometer to track activity levels for the duration of their program attendance each day. Researchers completed 86 days of monitoring. Accelerometers were not worn during nap time, and care providers noted times monitors were put on and taken off. The data was analyzed to determine the amount of time spent each day in sedentary, light, moderate and vigorous activity, as well as moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.
When the children were not napping, most of their activities were sedentary. On average, 264 of their 330 daily minutes (excluding nap time) were inactive. Light physical activity was achieved just a portion of their day, at around 36.5 minutes, with moderate activities at only about 14 minutes. Vigorous and moderate-to-vigorous activities combined were just approximately 18 minutes.
"This is an initial glimpse into what we can learn by looking at child care in a variety of settings as we continue to search for solutions to reversing inactivity and overweight and obesity in children," said lead author Stewart G. Trost, Ph.D., FACSM. "Previously we knew very little about the physical activity levels of preschoolers in family child care homes, and now our vision is starting to take shape. Getting programs in place to help private care providers and building awareness about boosting these kids' activity is important, and can be an early intervention in getting them active for later stages in their growth and development."
Trost said he and his study team plan to conduct research to better understand the barriers to physical activity opportunities in family child care homes, and implement a "train-the-trainer" intervention program to help home child care providers adopt practices that promote greater amounts of physical activity and encourage healthy eating.