Michigan Increases Opportunities for Low-Income Preschoolers to Eat Smart and Move More

1 in 3

low-income children aged 2–5 years in Michigan is overweight or obese

37 of 45
local health departments in Michigan have implemented strategies to improve physical activity and healthy food opportunities in low-income communities

Michigan farmers’ markets, through the Healthy Communities project, are now equipped to accept federal food assistance benefit cards to attract low-income residents

childcare centers in Michigan have implemented NAP SACC, using the tool to improve physical activity and nutrition policies and practices

In Michigan, about 1 in 3 low-income children aged 2–5 years is overweight or obese. Parents and children living in low-income communities often face barriers to getting enough physical activity and consuming healthy foods and beverages. Many of these barriers extend to childcare settings, where some of our youngest children spend a significant portion of their day. In Michigan, an estimated 400,000 children under age 6 need care while their parents work.

To increase physical activity and healthy eating opportunities for children in child care, in 2009 the Michigan Department of Community Health piloted NAP SACCExternal (Nutrition And Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care) in partnership with the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan. NAP SACC helps childcare providers assess their nutrition and physical activity policies and practices according to national best practices and make improvements based on the results. In 2011, Michigan’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (MiNPAO) program partnered with the Early Childhood Investment Corporation to help NAP SACC reach more children statewide.

In addition to NAP SACC, the Michigan Department of Community Health funded 37 of 45 local health departments across the state to build communities where families have access to

  • Affordable fruits and vegetables
  • Adequate and safe parks and trails
  • Opportunities for active transportation
  • Tobacco-free areas

This Healthy Communities projectExternal was made possible through funding from MiNPAO, the federal American Recovery Act of 2009, and the federal nutrition assistance program.


Through its partnership with the Early Childhood Investment Corporation, Michigan is encouraging childcare centers to use NAP SACC to meet nutrition and physical activity quality rating and improvement standards. NAP SACC has been used in almost 100 licensed childcare centers, reaching more than 7,000 low-income children ages 5 and under.

  • Each childcare center set and accomplished at least one goal to improve nutrition or physical activity for the children in its care, such as providing self-serve drinking water throughout the day or limiting screen time.
  • Participating Head Start programs developed and implemented agency-wide nutrition and physical activity policies, reaching approximately 4,000 children aged 3–5 years. Examples include changes to improve healthy beverage options (e.g., offering low-fat milk) and support for physical activity.

Each local health department that participated in Michigan’s Healthy Communities project developed a strategic vision related to healthy food, physical activity, and/or tobacco use for its target community. Interventions were developed and implemented in each community with the goal of meeting or exceeding the strategic vision. The project has already seen several accomplishments, including

  • Community park improvements, which have the potential to impact 4,800 low-income children and increase access to places where they can safely play. This includes a park with specialized equipment to ensure children with disabilities can safely play and be active.
  • Installation of equipment to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit cards at 19 Michigan farmers’ markets.
  • Cooking demonstrations, taste tests, and other nutrition education activities at farmers’ markets and food pantries, which reach almost 7,000 low-income individuals in Michigan each year.
Lessons Learned
  • To maximize their impact, state nutrition and physical activity programs must form diverse partnerships among local governments, nonprofit agencies, schools, law enforcement agencies, parks and recreation, and community members.
  • Partnering with experts and decision makers in early childhood development is critical to successful implementation of health programs in childcare settings. It is better to find out where obesity prevention goals intersect with early childhood development priorities rather than push obesity prevention as a new priority.
  • Adopting policies and standards for nutrition, physical activity, screen time, and breastfeeding can help sustain obesity prevention best practices in childcare settings over time.

Publication date: 09/24/2013

More Information
For story information, contact
Michigan Department of Community Health
Lonias Gilmore, MPH
Training Coordinator
Phone: 517-373-3021
Email: gilmorel@michigan.gov
For product information, contact
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30333
Email: CSTLTSfeedback@cdc.gov

The information in Public Health Practice Stories from the Field was provided by organizations external to CDC. Provision of this information by CDC is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the US government or CDC.

Page last reviewed: October 5, 2018