Impact of a Nature- Based Science Enrichment Program for Preschoolers on Body Mass Index and Activity Preferences
Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown
This study explores children’s health as it relates to Body Mass Index (BMI), sedentary or active play prferences, and solitary versus active social play. To find the interrelatedness between the variables, 400 preschool children aged 3-5 from West Michigan schools were interviewed. BMI was assessed using portable stadiometers and digital scales. The BMI percentiles and the BMI of each student was calculated by utilizing the Centers for Disease Control BMI Tool for School Groups calculator in addition to their heights and weights. A face to face interview was conducted to measure the sedentary versus active play preferences and to gain insight into the children’s preferences for active or sedentary activities when participating with family and friend groups as compared to solitary playing. The interview collected data based on questions such as, “What is your favorite thing to do with your friends and family?” and “What types of things do you like to do when you are alone (by yourself)?” A negative correlation was predicted for BMI and activity preference such that participants with higher BMIs were more likely to prefer sedentary activities. We expected statistical analysis to demonstrate that children in a social atmosphere were more likely to engage in active play and when they engaged in solitary play they would tend toward more sedentary activities. If the data provides evidence that BMI is associated with one’s preferred choice of activity for preschoolers, it will support previous findings that BMI is negatively correlated with higher levels of physical activity for other age groups. If our hypothesis regarding social versus solitary play is supported such that group activity encourages a more active preference, this has implications for community programming initiatives and for parent education encouraging group play in order to yield higher levels of physical activity.
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