Healthy Start Evaluation

One of the core components of the Healthy Start / Départ Santé initiative is the comprehensive outcome evaluation study. This study is being conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Saskatchewan and the Université de Moncton, in New Brunswick. The purpose is to evaluate whether or not implementing the Healthy Start program in early learning centres leads to increased healthy behaviours among preschoolers compared to centres who did not receive training. In order to measure the effect of Healthy Start, some of the information that was collected includes: measuring physical activity levels; a nutrition assessment; parent surveys around knowledge on physical activity and healthy eating; and observations on the how physical environment in the centres supported healthy eating and physical activity.

In total, 61 early learning centres were recruited in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan; 31 centres were randomly assigned to the ‘Intervention’ arm (these centres received the Healthy Start training) and 30 centres were assigned to the ‘Control’ arm (these centres did not receive any training). The research team wanted to compare a before and after picture, so they collected data from each centre at two time points: once before the training session and then again 6-8 months afterwards. Even though the centres in the ‘Control’ arm did not receive training, data was still collected twice 6-8 months apart for comparison. These centres were offered a training session after data collection was complete.

After three years of data collection, almost 900 children participated! The research team is working quickly to analyze the data and they are happy to share that so far, the results look promising. Healthy Start would like to once again, say thank you to all the centres and families who generously agreed to participate in this very important early years study – we could not have done this without your contributions!



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