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Kentucky Anti-Obesity Program Expands to Rural Preschoolers

A child obesity-prevention program that targets child care centers and preschool programs is expanding to rural Kentucky, according to a recent article by the Kentucky Health News.

The program, which is run by the National Early Care and Education Learning Collaborative project, emphasizes healthy behaviors like engaging in more physical activity, eating healthy foods, and limiting screen time for children, in early learning centers in nine states. More than 7,500 children in Kentucky have participated in the program at 65 early-childhood facilities. In 2015, the program will expand to the state's rural areas.

Rebekah Duchette, the project coordinator for Kentucky, told Kentucky Health News that the program is introducing new policies in the state. "At the program level we see programs implementing policies that go above what the state of Kentucky requires in child-care regulations," Duchette said. She added that participating child care centers are incorporating healthier foods, exposing children to a wider variety of foods, and increasing the amount and quality of physical learning time.

More than 40 percent of students in Kentucky live in rural areas and nearly 59 percent of these students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, one of the highest percentages in the country. Nationwide, more than 8 percent of children ages two through five were obese in 2011-12. Some research shows that rural students are more likely to be overweight or obese than urban children due to a lack of grocery stores, lack of access to healthcare, and few options for physical activity

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