Poster Topical Area: Obesity

Location: Hall D

Poster Board Number: 628

P23-001 - Adherence to recommendations for diet, physical activity and media use in low-income children enrolled in Head Start in the Greater Boston area

Sunday, Jun 10
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Objectives: Public health recommendations for weight-related behaviors – including diet, physical activity, and screen media use - set forth by multiple health organizations (e.g. USDA, American Academy of Pediatrics) facilitate simplified messaging to promote healthy lifestyle behaviors and provide a standardized metric to guage population health. This study examines adherence to recommendations for weight-related behaviors in children ages 3-5 years enrolled in Head Start in the Greater Boston area.

Methods: Children's BMI, diet, physical activity, and media use behaviors were measured in fall and spring of the 2016-2017 academic year for all children enrolled in 23 Head Start centers in Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville, MA. The proportion of children meeting recommendations for each outcome and the proportion who maintained adherence to recommendations across both times of measurement was calculated.

Results: Participants included 1491 children ages 3- to 5-years. The majority of children were male (52%), non-Hispanic (56%), and Black (41%). Approximately 19% of children were categorized as obese (>95thBMI percentile). The majority of children met the recommended intake of fruits (86%), vegetables (59%), juice (86%), and soda (71%); however, far fewer children met recommendation for whole grains (44%), screen time (14%), or physical activity (31%). In a subsample of children (N=640), BMI and weigh-related behaviors were measured twice during the assessment period. The majority of these children maintained recommended levels of fruit (73%) and juice (77%) intake from Fall to Spring, and nearly a quarter decreased their soda consumption during the same period. However, a large majority of these children failed to meet recommendations for media use over the entire year (78%). There were no significant differences by weight status or child sex, except for screen time, where significantly more girls than boys met the recommendations.

Conclusions: In a large sample of low-income preschool-aged children in the Greater Boston area, adherence to recommendations for BMI and weight-related behaviors was generally very low. Results highlight the need for efficacious health promotion interventions in this population.

Funding Source:

Grant number: R01DK108200

CoAuthors: Nicole Kitos, MS, MPH – Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Roger Figueroa, PhD, MPH, MSc – Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Begum Kalyoncu, MS – Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health; Jacob Beckerman, MPH – Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Healht; Adam Gavarkovs, ScM – Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Kindra Lansburg, MPH – Action for Boston Community Development; Crystal Kazik, MA – Community Action Agency of Somerville; Janine Jurkowski, PhD, MPH – University at Albany School of Public Health; Kirsten Davison, PhD – Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Alyssa Aftosmes-Tobio

Project Manager
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Boston, Massachusetts