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Prev Chronic Dis. 2010 May;7(3):A54. Epub 2010 Apr 15.

Reaching staff, parents, and community partners to prevent childhood obesity in Head Start, 2008.

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  • 1Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.



Lowering the prevalence of childhood obesity requires a multilevel approach that targets the home, school, and community. Head Start, the largest federally funded early childhood education program in the United States, reaches nearly 1 million low-income children, and it provides an ideal opportunity for implementing such an approach. Our objective was to describe obesity prevention activities in Head Start that are directed at staff, parents, and community partners.


We mailed a survey in 2008 to all 1,810 Head Start programs in the United States.


Among the 1,583 (87%) responding programs, 60% held workshops to train new staff about children's feeding and 63% held workshops to train new staff about children's gross motor activity. Parent workshops on preparing or shopping for healthy foods were offered by 84% of programs and on encouraging children's gross motor activity by 43% of programs. Ninety-seven percent of programs reported having at least 1 community partnership to encourage children's healthy eating, and 75% reported at least 1 to encourage children's gross motor activity.


Head Start programs reported using a multilevel approach to childhood obesity prevention that included staff, parents, and community partners. More information is needed about the content and effectiveness of these efforts.

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