Children’s Healthy Weight Research Group presents at national conference

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The Children’s Healthy Weight research group from the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) shared their research with the 2013 National Smart Start Conference in Greensboro on April 29-May 2.

The conference brought together early child care and education professionals from all over the country to learn and share. The 2013 conference also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Smart Start program in North Carolina. Smart Start is a public/private partnership with the NC Partnership for Children, Inc. and provides early childhood education in all 100 NC counties.

Dianne Ward, PhD, research fellow at HPDP and professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health along with HPDP researchers Amber Vaughn, Kamaria Mason, Rachel Bartlett, and Christina McWilliams participated in a workshop sharing success stories from the Shape NC project. They led round-table discussions on strategies for creating health promoting child care environments like supporting the health of teachers and staff and developing healthy menus on a budget.

The vision of the Shape NC project is to change child care communities by giving young children early experience with healthy food and physical activity. This early exposure provides the children with foundations of a lifetime of healthy behaviors.

Staff members from the Children’s Healthy Weight research group have been active partners in the development of the Shape NC project, lending their expertise in supporting healthy nutrition and physical activity practices at child care.

In addition, Ellie Morris, a research associate at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, led a session at the conference unveiling the new Go NAP SACC program. Go NAP SACC is an updated and expanded version of NAPSACC (Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care), which has gained national acclaim for helping child care providers make healthy changes in their centers.

Participants watched and gave feedback on a live demonstration of the program’s online self-assessment and action planning tools that are currently under development. More information about Go NAP SACC can be found at www.gonapsacc.org.

Dr. Ward also participated in the steering committee on early childhood health to plan the conference.

Zach Freshwater

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