Implementation of Best Practices in Obesity Prevention in Child Care Facilities: The Arizona Empower Program, 2013–2015
Introduction: Obesity is a major health concern in every US age group. Approximately one in 4 children in Arizona’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children is overweight or obese. The Arizona Department of Health Services developed the Empower program to promote healthy environments in licensed child care facilities. The program consists of 10 standards, including one standard for each of these 5 areas: physical activity and screen time, breastfeeding, fruit juice and water, family-style meals, and staff training. The objective of this evaluation was to determine the level of implementation of these 5 Empower standards.
Methods: A self-assessment survey was completed from July 2013 through June 2015 by 1,850 facilities to evaluate the level of implementation of 5 Empower standards. We calculated the percentage of facilities that reported the degree to which they implemented each standard and identified common themes in comments recorded in the survey.
Results: All facilities reported either full or partial implementation of the 5 standards. Of 1,678 facilities, 21.7% (n = 364) reported full implementation of all standards, and 78.3% (n = 1,314) reported at least partial implementation. Staff training, which has only one component, had the highest level of implementation: 77.4% (n = 1,299) reported full implementation. Only 44.0% (n = 738) reported full implementation of the standard on a breastfeeding-friendly environment.
Conclusion: Arizona child care facilities have begun to implement the Empower program, but facilities will need more education, technical assistance, and support in some areas to fully implement the program.
February 11, 2019