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Author Notes:

The authors wish to acknowledge the support and engagement of the early care and learning centers that participated in the initial training as well as staff in the South, Southeast, and Coastal Health Districts of Georgia.

The authors wish to acknowledge the support of DPH Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, Yvette Daniels, JD and J. Patrick O’Neal, MD, as well as Chronic Disease Prevention staff Shalonda Freeman, PhD, MPH, Kenneth Ray, MPH, and Kia Powell-Threets, MS for their support of the project.


Research Funding:

This manuscript and the development and implementation of Growing Fit were supported by funds from the State of Georgia and CDC Cooperative Agreement number NU58DP004801-03-03.


  • nutrition
  • weight status
  • physical activity
  • obesity
  • early care
  • children
  • education

Growing Fit: Georgia’s model for engaging early care environments in preventing childhood obesity


Journal Title:

Journal of the Georgia Public Health Association


Volume 5, Number 3


, Pages 266-275

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Background In the United States, one in three children is overweight or obese by their fifth birthday. In Georgia, 35 percent of children are overweight or obese. Contrary to popular belief, children who are overweight or obese are likely to be the same weight status as adults, making early childhood an essential time to address weight status. An estimated 380,000 Georgia children attend early care and education environments, such as licensed child care centers, Head Start, and pre-kindergarten programs, which provide an opportunity to reach large numbers of children, including those at risk for obesity and overweight. Methods To address this opportunity, the Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia Shape - the Governor’s Initiative to prevent childhood obesity, and HealthMPowers, Inc., created the Growing Fit training and toolkit to assist early childhood educators in creating policy, systems, and environmental changes that support good nutrition and physical activity. This report, the first related to this project, describes the training and its dissemination between January and December 2015. Results A total of 103 early childcare educators from 39 early childcare education centers (22 individual childcare systems) from 19 counties in Georgia were trained. Fifteen systems completed a pre and post-test assessment of their system, demonstrating slight improvements. Training for an additional 125 early childcare education centers is planned for 2016. Conclusions Lessons learned from the first year of the training include the need for more robust assessment of adoption and implementation of policy, systems, and environmental changes in trained centers.

Copyright information:

Georgia Public Health Association

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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