Childcare Providers' Perceptions of Their Influence on Obesity in Early Childhood

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Title: Childcare Providers' Perceptions of Their Influence on Obesity in Early Childhood
Author: Holland, Marna Marae
Advisors: Dr. Davia Massey, Committee Member
Dr. David Mustian, Committee Chair
Dr. David Jenkins, Committee Member
Dr. Richard Liles, Committee Member
Dr. Ron Shearon, Committee Member
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate childcare providers' perceptions of their influence on young children (defined as infants, toddlers, and preschoolers) being or becoming overweight. Specifically, this research examined childcare providers' roles in providing appropriate meals and snacks, nutrition education, and physical activity, and also modeling behaviors that promote healthy weight, and how and to what extent providers perceived those roles affected the weight of the children in their care. Data for this study were collected by surveying childcare providers who were enrolled in child development courses at five community colleges in western North Carolina. The research was guided by the following questions. (1) How do socio-demographic, physical, psychological, and organizational factors of providers affect their perceptions of their influence on obesity in early childhood? (2) What are childcare providers' perceptions of their role in the prevention of obesity in early childhood, in regards to providing healthy meals and snacks, promoting appropriate nutrition education, promoting physical activity, and serving as a role model for children in regards to nutrition and physical activity? (3) How much influence do providers perceive that they have in regards to influencing children's weight? The majority of the 120 respondents were female and Caucasian. The largest percentage of participants were 20 to 29 years of age and had a GED, high school diploma, or some college coursework. Over 90 percent had an annual income of $30,000 or less. Data analysis revealed that several variables of providers affect their perceptions of their influence on children's weight. These include ethnic background and attitudes toward the childcare profession (affected perceptions of influence on meals and snacks), self-concept, quality of life, and class size (affected perceptions of influence on nutrition education), and provider activities and tasks during children's outdoor play (affected perceptions of influence on children's physical activity). Physical characteristics of providers, including weight, eating habits, and physical activity patterns did not affect their perceived influence on children's weight, and a majority of the participants were healthy role models in regards to eating and physical activity habits. Analysis also revealed that providers place greater emphasis on guiding meals and snacks and physical activity than on nutrition education and that providers perceived their influence to be greatest in the area of physical activity.
Date: 2007-01-21
Degree: EdD
Discipline: Occupational Education

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