First Steps to Healthy Living: Evaluation of the NY State Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Program
Improving Diabetes Prevention and Management
June 24, 2008
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Childhood obesity is well-documented as increasing the subsequent risk of adult obesity, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. While the majority of obesity prevention projects are targeted to school-age children, obesity begins much earlier in life.
The Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health’s mission is to integrate teaching, service, and research. This evaluation measured changes in food consumption patterns, physical activity, and Body Mass Index in children participating in the State’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, Children (WIC) program—within the context of other local and regional initiatives—using WIC administrative data, staff and parent interviews, and direct measures of child height and weight, and physical activity. WIC is a federally funded grant program ideally positioned to play an important role in childhood obesity prevention. The innovative programs initiated by the New York State WIC Program in 2008 were designed to improve health outcomes in young children through changes to the WIC food package and implementation of Fit WIC NY, which has both physical activity and nutritional counseling components. The evaluation was a partnership of academia and government. The Mailman School of Public Health developed the evaluation objectives and plan in concert with the New York State Department of Health’s Division of Nutrition with input from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Division of Physical Activity and Nutrition.