BMI Data Collection and Communication Practices in a Multistate Sample of Head Start Programs

Alison Tovar, M. Elizabeth Miller, Virginia C. Stage, Jessica A. Hoffman, Emily Hill Guseman, Susan Sisson, Dana Shefet, Sara E. Bejamin-Neelon, Taren Swindle, Saima Hasnin, Marco Beltran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although there is a federal mandate to collect anthropometric data in Head Start (HS), little is currently known about the processes used to collect the height and weight measurements across programs and how the results are communicated to parents/guardians. The goal of this study was to understand anthropometric data collection and dissemination procedures in a sample of HS programs serving children 3-5 years. Methods: A convenience sample of HS Health or Nutrition managers were recruited via personal contacts and HS state directors to complete an electronic survey. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics (means, standard deviations and frequencies). Open-ended questions were coded using thematic analysis. All protocols and procedures were approved by the Institutional Review Board at Miami University. Results: Approximately half of the programs reported that they have a protocol in place to guide measurements (57.1%) and those measurements are primarily taken by HS staff (64.5%). Most programs explain measurements to parents (82.3%) and report that collecting height/weight data is helpful in supporting children's health (76.0%). Most programs (80.3%) provide resources to parents of children with overweight or obesity. Four themes emerged from open-ended responses: (1) Role of Community Partners (e.g., providing information that conflicts with others); (2) Communicating Children's Weight Status with Families (e.g., using sensitive communication methods); (3) Challenges Measuring Children's Weight Status (e.g., accuracy of data, children's awareness); and (4) Family Reaction to Weight Status Communication (e.g., positive or negative experiences). Conclusion: Opportunities for quality improvement include wider use of standardized, written protocols and policies on data collection and enhanced communication practices to share information with parents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-323
Number of pages15
JournalChildhood Obesity
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • BMI communication
  • BMI screening
  • child care
  • Head Start
  • obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


Dive into the research topics of 'BMI Data Collection and Communication Practices in a Multistate Sample of Head Start Programs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this