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Key DFM Personnel

Alex Adams, MD, PhD – Principal Investigator
Tara LaRowe, PhD – Principal Investigator
Courtney Saxler – Project Staff


Wisconsin Partnership Program


The rate of childhood obesity continues to rise in Wisconsin. Obesity rates reflect substantial health disparities in the state as evidenced by 43.9% of Native American children, 35.6% of Hispanic children, 32.9% of Asian children and 23.5% of African American children being overweight. The intersectionality of ethnicity, socioeconomic status and obesity is evident when considering the overlap in the child poverty rates, childhood obesity statistics and demographic information specific to each Wisconsin county.

The project aims to support 120 minutes of physical activity consisting of equal amounts of structured and unstructured time for toddlers and preschool children in 14 early care and education settings, consisting of both group and family providers. The project will target sites with high proportions of children of low socioeconomic status and high enrollment of American Indian, Latino, Hmong and African American children, in both rural and urban communities, as a means to address Wisconsin’s prevalent health disparities in rates of childhood obesity. Supporting goals of the project include increasing parent and provider buy-in to physical activity and obesity prevention efforts and the overall reduction of disparate rates of childhood obesity.


The primary outcomes objectives include: 1) increase physical activity to a total of 120 minutes daily, 2) implementation of evidence-based practices and policies in early care and education settings, 3) increase provider knowledge and skills, 4) enhance parent and provider attitudes and beliefs that reflect buy-in to promoting physical activity and preventing obesity and 5) reducing rates of obesity by supporting an appropriate trajectory for child body mass index (BMI).


Four prevention strategies will be employed: training, coaching/technical assistance, parent engagement and micro-grants. Providers will be trained on the Wisconsin Early Care and Education Physical Activity Training and Active Early: A Wisconsin Guide to Improving Childhood Physical Activity. These resources outline evidence-based practices and policies, as well as physical activity materials, equipment and curricula. After the initial training, efforts will focus upon individualized coaching and technical assistance, which will be divided into three modules: Knowledge Development, Quality Improvement and Outcome Sustainability. During each module, parent engagement will be prioritized, so that providers learn strategic methods of increasing parental involvement around health promotion.

The intervention model of training and technical assistance is modified from the evidence-based NAP SACC to focus on physical activity and enhanced to encompass the needs of underserved and diverse populations. These services will be delivered locally through Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies and the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association.