What Can Be Learned from Existing Investigations of Weight-Related Practices and Policies with the Potential to Impact Disparities in US Child-Care Settings? A Narrative Review and Call for Surveillance and Evaluation Efforts.
Child-care settings and the combination of policies and regulations under which they operate may reduce or perpetuate disparities in weight-related health, depending on the environmental supports they provide for healthy eating and activity. The objectives of this review are to summarize research on state and local policies germane to weight-related health equity among young children in the United States and on how federal policies and regulations may provide supports for child-care providers serving families with the most limited resources. In addition, a third objective is to comprehensively review studies of whether there are differences in practices and policies within US child-care facilities according to the location or demographics of providers and children. The review found there is growing evidence addressing disparities in the social and physical child-care environments provided for young children, but scientific gaps are present in the current understanding of how resources should best be allocated and policies designed to promote health equity. Additional research is needed to address limitations of prior studies relating to the measurement of supports for weight-related health; complexities of categorizing socioeconomic position, ethnicity/race, and urban and rural areas; exclusion of legally nonlicensed care settings from most research; and the cross-sectional nature of most study designs. There is a particularly great need for the development of strong surveillance systems to allow for better monitoring and evaluation of state policies that may impact weight-related aspects of child-care environments, implementation at the program level, and needed implementation supports.
Larson, N; Ayers Looby, A; Frost, N; Nanney, MS; Story, M
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