Skip to main content
Dianne Ward headshot
Dianne Ward, EdD

A new $3.3 million project to simultaneously combat childhood obesity and help home-based child care owners adopt healthy practices will be undertaken by a partnership between researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University.

Led by Dianne Ward, Ed.D., of UNC and Truls Ostbye, M.D., of Duke, the Healthy You, Healthy Home, Healthy Business, or H-3, project, will be based in family child-care homes, small business where providers care for children out of their own homes. Ward is a professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and research fellow at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Ostbye is a professor in the Duke University Department of Community and Family Medicine and Duke Global Health Institute.

The H-3 intervention will help child-care providers become healthy role models and create family home child-care environments that support healthy nutrition and physical activity and adopt good business practices. The program includes group workshops, site visits, coaching phone calls and educational toolkits.

Family child-care homes participating in the study will be randomly selected either to receive the services of the program or to be in a control group. The study, funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health, will enroll 150 family child-care homes within 100 miles of the two study offices. Enrollment will begin in 2013. The project is funded through 2017.

Ward and Ostbye each have led several projects focusing on improving nutrition and physical activity for young children, but this is the first time their teams have worked together on a project focused on family child-care homes.

“While a large number of children spend many hours in family day-care homes each day, to date very little has been done improve healthy eating and increase physical activity in these settings,” Ostbye said. “Given how hard it is to treat obesity once it is established, it is essential to focus on prevention and to start very early in life.”

The H-3 intervention will be based on previous research done at UNC on nutrition and physical activity at child-care centers, adapted to the family child-care environment.“Family child-care homes provide important out-of-home child care for families with young children,” Ward said. “We are excited to be collaborating with colleagues at Duke to develop and test a program for family home care providers that is designed to enhance their own health, create healthy home environments and add value to their businesses.”

The H-3 project acknowledges the challenges facing all small businesses, especially limited profitability in family child-care homes. The project will include strategies for overcoming economic challenges while striving to improve the health of children and the caregivers at the centers.

UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention contact: Sonya Sutton, 919-608-0480;

Comments are closed.