Get access

CHILE: An Evidence-Based Preschool Intervention for Obesity Prevention in Head Start


  • We express our deepest appreciation and sincere thanks to all the teachers, staff, and administration at the participating Head Start centers, as well as families and other community members who assisted in the development and implementation of the CHILE study. We also wish to thank all members of the CHILE research team. Thank you to Theresa Cruz for help preparing the manuscript. CHILE was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)—grant no. 1 R01 DK72958-01.

Address correspondence to: Sally M. Davis, Director, (, Prevention Research Center, University of New Mexico, 1 University of New Mexico, MSC 11, 6145, Albuquerque, NM 87131.



Obesity is a major concern among American Indians and Hispanics. The Child Health Initiative for Lifelong Eating and Exercise (CHILE) is an evidence-based intervention to prevent obesity in children enrolled in 16 Head Start (HS) Centers in rural communities. The design and implementation of CHILE are described.


CHILE uses a socioecological approach to improve dietary intake and increase physical activity. The intervention includes: a classroom curriculum; teacher and food service training; family engagement; grocery store participation; and health care provider support.


Lessons learned from CHILE include the need to consider availability of recommended foods; the necessity of multiple training sessions for teachers and food service; the need to tailor the family events to local needs; consideration of the profit needs of grocery stores; and sensitivity to the time constraints of health care providers.


HS can play an important role in preventing obesity in children. CHILE is an example of a feasible intervention that addresses nutrition and physical activity for preschool children that can be incorporated into HS curricula and aligns with HS national performance standards.