A program designed by researchers at the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention to reduce obesity in preschool children was recommended by the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity last week.
The task force is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to reduce childhood obesity. Titled Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity within a Generation, the report recommended specific evidence-informed programs to achieve this goal. The Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care (NAP SACC) was one of three programs identified by the task force as an intervention to combat childhood obesity in early childhood.
“We’re very pleased to have NAP SACC included in this list,” said Dianne Ward, principal investigator of the study and professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings Global School of Public Health. “We think our reputation and the demonstrated usefulness of NAP SACC preceded us and led the task force to recognize NAP SACC as a model program.”
The other programs noted were Nemours Childhood Obesity Model, supported by the Nemours Health and Prevention Services and I am Moving, I am Learning, a health promotion and obesity prevention enhancement developed for Head Start.
“NAP SACC was developed with modest funding but strong community participation. We are excited to be cited along programs that enjoy on-going funding.” said Ward. NAP SACC received funding from several sources, including the Prevention Research Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
NAP SACC focuses on the child care environment and asks center directors and teachers to identify aspects of the environment they want to improve. These aspects include nutrition, equipment, play time and opportunities for physical activity, among others. The program measures success by changes in the foods offered and activity opportunities given to children rather than body measurements.
NAP SACC has been disseminated nationally and internationally, by government agencies, community groups and health practitioners. An Arizona partnership between local health departments and the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health implemented NAP SACC in Yuma County and found that the program “created a culture of health promotion within the child care setting.”
NAP SACC materials are available for download from the Center for Excellence in Training and Research Translation (Center TRT), a project also based at HPDP. The site offers a free online training to anyone interested in implementing NAP SACC, along with full program materials. Website users must register on the site to access materials, but it is available to anyone.
The North Carolina Partnership for Children and Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation also provided grants to communities and groups interested in implementing NAP SACC. The grants provided salary support for health practitioners to assist groups to implement NAP SACC .
Ward said that although their NAP SACC research funding has officially ended, her team is looking for ways to establish permanent support to assist organizations who want to implement the program.