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Physical activity and sedentary behavior legislation in Canadian childcare facilities: an update

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Vanderloo, L.M. & Tucker, P.
Publication Date: 
31 Dec 2017


Background:Within the childcare sector, physical activity and sedentary behaviors are not legislated at a nationallevel in Canada. Efforts have been undertaken to identify factors within childcare facilities which support and deterphysical activity and sedentary behaviors. The purpose of this paper was to provide an amended review of thelegislative landscape, at the provincial and territorial level, regarding physical activity and sedentary behaviors (viascreen-viewing) in Canadian childcare centers.

Methods:Individual childcare acts and regulations for each province and territory were collected; documents werereviewed with a focus on sections devoted to child health, physical activity, screen time, play, and outdoor time.An extraction table was used to facilitate systematic data retrieval and comparisons across provinces and territories.

Results:Of the 13 provinces and territories, 8 (62%) have updated their childcare regulations in the past 5 years.All provinces provide general recommendations to afford gross motor movement; but the majority give no specificrequirements for how much or at what intensity. Only 3 provinces (Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Nova Scotia)explicitly mentioned daily physical activity while all provinces’and territories’required daily outdoor play. Only 1province (New Brunswick) made mention of screen-viewing.

Conclusions:The variability in childcare regulations results in different physical activity requirements across thecountry. By providing high-level targets for physical activity recommendations, by way of provincial/territoriallegislation, staff would have a baseline from which to begin supporting more active behaviors among the childrenin their care. Future research is needed to support translating physical activity policies into improved activity levelsamong young children in childcare and the role of screen-viewing in these venues.