Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TOP Star: Child care center project targets obesity

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Healthier foods and more physical activity are just two important lifestyle changes being made by some child care centers in three areas of the state. The Targeting Obesity in Preschool and Child Care Settings (TOP Star) program has been piloted over the last year in 39 centers with help from the Davis, Tooele, and Weber-Morgan Health Departments.

“The purpose of the program is to help child care providers improve their physical activity and nutrition environments,” said Jessica Haymond, TOP Star Project Coordinator at the Utah Department of Health. “The assistance from the participating local health departments has been key to the implementation of this project,” Haymond added.

In just a few months, participating centers have made changes and learned a lot about how to help children to be more active, eat better, and lower their risk of obesity.

“Before enrolling in TOP Star, I didn’t know how to improve the nutrition and physical activity environment in my home and with the children under my care,” says Debbie Reid, owner and director of Ready, Set, Grow Child Care & Preschool in Tooele. “I wouldn’t have made it a priority had I not gotten involved with TOP Star. Now I know where to go to get information and assistance,” said Reid.

In Utah and the U.S., nearly one in five children is at an unhealthy weight by the time he or she is in first grade.

For more information on TOP Star, visit www.health.utah.gov/obesity/pages/topstar.php.

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Tania J. Charette
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