The Colorado LEAP Study: A Socioecological Approach to Obesity Prevention in Early Childhood
A Longitudinal Study to Assess if the Effectiveness of a Preschool Nutrition and Physical Activity Program is Sustained in Elementary School
The Colorado Longitudinal Eating And Physical activity (LEAP) Study utilizes a social
ecological approach to explore individual, family and environmental factors and their
relationship to child weight status over a 3 year timeframe. Our primary research questions
are as follows:
1. Are behavior changes (increased willingness to try new foods and gross motor skills)
from a preschool nutrition and activity program, The Food Friends®, sustained through
early elementary school?
2. Do The Food Friends® programs have an impact on reducing the percentage of children
considered overweight and/or obese over a 3 year timeframe?
3. Do food preference and gross motor performance directly affect child weight status or
are they mediators to dietary intake and physical activity?
The preschool years are a critical time to begin obesity prevention efforts as they
represent a time when young children establish healthy eating habits and physical activity
patterns. These habits can place children at risk for obesity and are shaped by many
characteristics, including individual characteristics as well as school, family and societal
environmental characteristics. Predictive behaviors, or behavioral antecedents, within these
environments can influence child behaviors. While many predictive behaviors have been shown
to influence dietary intake, physical activity, and weight status, two potential behavioral
antecedents - food preference and motor performance - need further exploration.
Understanding the context in which child behavioral patterns are developed is critical to
developing a model to address childhood obesity.
The Colorado LEAP project is a longitudinal cohort study utilizing a controlled
quasi-experimental design in 5 rural Colorado communities. Two communities serve as
intervention communities with the other 3 as matched controls. Intervention sites receive
The Food Friends® nutrition and physical activity programs in preschool and 'booster'
programming in kindergarten and 1st grade. Assessments are administered 4 times - twice in
preschool (Fall and Spring) and once in both kindergarten and 1st grade (Spring).
Observational measures with children are conducted at the school; parent/home measures are
sent home and returned to school via the child; and school personnel complete school
environment and policy assessments.
Child, Preschool, Parents, Family, Obesity, Overweight, Diet, Overnutrition, Motor Activity, Child Care, Schools
Colorado State University
Colorado State University, USDA Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, University of Colorado, Denver
Active, not recruiting