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Child Obes. 2013 Apr;9(2):116-24. doi: 10.1089/chi.2013.9204. Epub 2013 Mar 18.

Expert and stakeholder consensus on priorities for obesity prevention research in early care and education settings.

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Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7426, USA.



Early childhood is a formative period for many weight-related behaviors (diet and activity), but little obesity prevention research targeting this age group has been conducted. Early care and education settings are a useful avenue for interventions targeting young children, but the limited research provides insufficient evidence upon which to base policy decisions, practice guidelines, or mobilized efforts to improve healthy eating and physical activity, and ultimately healthy weight development in these settings.


In September of 2011, prominent researchers, young investigators, and leaders in early care and education came together to examine past research and to explore challenges and priorities for future research on healthy weight development in children aged 2-5 years. During this meeting, experts presented and attendees discussed key issues around measurement of diet and physical activity, policy and environment measurement, intervention approaches, policy research, and capacity development. Following the meeting, attendees were invited to participate in an online voting exercise to select top research priorities.


A total of 64 research issues were identified, and voting narrowed this list to 24 issues. Highest-rated issues included: Assessment of the quality of children's meals and snacks, use of financial incentives, interventions that include healthcare providers, the role of screen time, and need for multilevel interventions.


The presentations within this meeting highlighted the importance of research to address the unique challenges for those working in early care and education settings. Expert and stakeholder consensus of priorities identified significant and innovative areas where future obesity prevention research efforts should be focused.

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