Cotwright CJ; Bales DW; Lee JS; Parrott K; Celestin N; Olubajo B
OBJECTIVES: We evaluated an intervention combining policy training and technical assistance for childcare teachers with a nutrition education curriculum to improve (1) the knowledge and self-efficacy of childcare teachers in implementing obesity prevention policies and practices, (2) the quantity and quality of nutrition and physical activity education, and (3) the childcare wellness environment. METHODS: Thirteen teachers and 8 administrators (2 of whom were also teachers) from 8 childcare programs in Clarke County, Georgia, participated in the Healthy Child Care Georgia intervention during June-October 2015. The intervention included (1) training and technical assistance on obesity prevention policies, systems, and practices and (2) direct education by teachers using the Eat Healthy, Be Active curriculum. We assessed changes in program wellness policy adoption and teacher knowledge and self-efficacy from pre- to post-intervention through self-report questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups. RESULTS: Teachers' knowledge scores (maximum score = 100) rose significantly from a mean (SD) pre-intervention of 67.1 (14.6) to post-intervention of 83.2 (14.3) ( P < .001). The mean score for "teaching nutrition and activity to children" (maximum score = 105) rose significantly from 86.9 (8.2) to 93.5 (5.2) ( P = .011) and for "modeling and supporting children" (maximum score = 63) from 55.8 (5.1) to 59.5 (4.5) ( P = .015). The mean (SD) scores for breastfeeding and infant feeding policy/practice adoption (maximum score = 6) increased significantly from 2.5 (1.8) to 3.7 (1.9) ( P = .043) and for nutrition education policy/practice adoption (maximum score = 4) from 2.0 (1.3) to 3.3 (1.4) ( P = .019). The combined approach enhanced classroom nutrition education and improved the adoption of best practices. CONCLUSION: Future studies should examine the effects of using a combined approach to promote nutrition and physical activity policies and practices in the early care and education setting.