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A team of researchers at UCLA was recently awarded a $2.8 million grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development to test an obesity prevention program in about 60 preschools in Los Angeles.
Many young children spend a significant portion of their day in a childcare center or at preschool. The breakfast, lunch and snacks they are given may make up the majority of what they’ll eat that day. It’s also where they get to do most of their daily physical activity.
UCLA researchers believe these early care and education settings may be the ideal places to study how to address the obesity epidemic. More than one in five children ages 2 to 5 in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Roshan Bastani, professor in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and director for Disparities and Community Engagement in the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Dr. Paul Chung, professor in the Fielding School and of pediatrics in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, will lead the study.
The five-year project will examine the effectiveness of a multi-level intervention that incorporates healthy eating and physical activity into preschool routines, adapts evidence-based policies into organizational structures and encourages parents to make healthy changes in the home. The team will collaborate with the Child Care Resource Center, a nonprofit organization that focuses on ensuring high-quality preschool and childcare experiences in low-resource communities.