Healthy Start is a comprehensive, evidence-based program providing professional development training for early learning and childcare practitioners and parents. Healthy Start offers on-going support, resources and best practices for the integration of active play and healthy eating in early childhood settings.
In order to assess the relevance and effectiveness of the program, more than 60 early childcare centres in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have been evaluated between 2013 and 2016. The study followed a randomized controlled trial design. Physical activity, eating behaviour and body composition of children between the ages of 3 and 5, as well as environment audits and educator and parent behaviours, were measured at the before the intervention and ten months later.
In 2018, an online platform was developed with the same resources and information as the in-person training to compare it with a virtual training. Eighteen early childcare centres in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick are currently participating in this part of the study. The latter study also follows a randomized controlled trial design. Since there are no direct interactions with children for this part of the study, the analyses focus on the environment as well as the behaviours of the educators and directors of the centres. These data are measured before the online training, as well as 10 months after the training.
- Measure the impact of Healthy Start on physical activity levels and eating behaviour in preschoolers attending early childcare centres;
- Increase the capacity of educators, directors and families to offer children the opportunity to be physically active and eat healthy with the help of resources based on scientific evidence.
Principal researchers: Stéphanie Ward, Ph.D, RD (Université de Moncton), Mathieu Bélanger Ph.D (Université de Sherbrooke), Anne Leis, Ph.D (University of Saskatchewan), Louise Humbert, PhD (University of Saskatchewan), Nazeem Muhajarine, Ph.D (University of Saskatchewan), Hassan Vatanparast, Ph.D. (University of Saskatchewan), Rachel Engler-Stringer, Ph.D. (University of Saskatchewan).
Co-researchers: Carol Henry, Ph.D (University of Saskatchewan), Martin Sénéchal (University of New Brunswick), Danielle Bouchard (University of New Brunswick).