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Advisor: R. Brawer, Jefferson College of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA


The goal of this project was to address obesity and overweight among Head Start Program servicing children ages 2-5 by conducting an assessment of the needs and assets of the Norris Square Community Alliance’s (NSCA) Head Start Programs obesity prevention efforts as they relate to nutrition and physical activity. In addition, this project aimed to 1) determine obese and overweight prevalence data among children attending the NSCA Head Start Programs, 2) understand current NSCA Head Start Programs practices that support healthy weight among pre-school age children, and 3) identify opportunities for improvement and provide recommendations for improvement of nutrition and physical activity practices in the NSCA Head Start Programs.In order to reach these aims, overweight and obesity rates were calculated using child age, weight, and birth date and were compared and contrasted between centers and in-depth interviews were conducted at four of the Head Start Centers that are a part of the NSCA with Center Directors and key staff when applicable i.e. Health Specialists. Interviews were recorded and coded and key themes were developed. Six themes emerged through the analysis of the interview data: 1) a misperception of obesity within the community, 2) diet, rather than physical activity, as the source of the problem, 3) diets outside of school pose a greater problem than diets at school, 4) barriers to healthy eating, 5) a culture of health starting with modeling, for teachers, parents, and children, and 6) the importance of a sustainable and integrated intervention. Thematic priorities and BMI data are incorporated into a series of recommendations to assist in creating a healthier Head Start environment.

Presentation: 23:06