There are two to three times as many obese children in the United States today as there were 20 years ago. Obesity is more common among children who are racial/ethnic minorities or who live in low-income households. Head Start, with its almost one million low-income preschool children from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds, is potentially an ideal setting for developing obesity prevention efforts.
Head Start recently began an innovative approach to obesity prevention called “I Am Moving, I Am Learning” (IM/IL). This program enhancement offers a flexible framework that program staff can use to integrate obesity prevention activities into their daily practices. The goals of IM/IL are to: (1) increase the quantity of time children spend in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) each day, (2) improve the quality of structured movement activities that are facilitated by teachers and other adults, and (3) promote healthy food choices among children each day. In the spring of 2006, Head Start Region III hosted three IM/IL training-of-trainers (TOT) events for reaching a total of 53 programs. Each program sent up to five representatives to the 2½ day training, where they participated in interactive workshops and developed strategies for implementing IM/IL enhancement activities at their local sites. Participants returned to their program and were expected to train fellow staff on what they learned at the training event.
An implementation evaluation was conducted to examine the extent to which grantees who participated in the spring 2006 Region III TOT event are implementing IM/IL enhancements. The initial phase of the evaluation1 involved a questionnaire that was mailed to each of the 53 Head Start programs that had participated in the TOT event. The questionnaire was sent in the spring of 2007 to the individual staff member in each program who was designated to lead the implementation of IM/IL enhancement activities. This questionnaire assessed the staff members’ perceptions of the spring 2006 TOT event and their experience implementing IM/IL in their programs during the year following that event. Fifty completed questionnaires were received, for a response rate of 94 percent. Two programs reported not having tried to implement IM/IL activities; therefore, most of the analyses were completed with 48 programs rather than 50. This brief describes the results of this first-phase questionnaire.