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1. Why does the ToyBox-study focus on preschool children and not on older children?
The ToyBox-study focuses on preschool children because health-related behaviours, psychological traits, and physiological processes are developed at that age. Adopting healthy lifestyle behaviours in early childhood may set the foundations for optimal growth and development and long-term health. Furthermore, it's easier to change habits which are not entirely settled.
2. What are the expected outcomes of the ToyBox-study?
The ToyBox-study is targeting on short-term and long-term outcomes. With regard to the short-term outcomes, the main goal of the ToyBox-study is to promote four-lifestyle behaviours (water consumption, healthy snacking, physical activity and interrupting/limiting prolonged sitting) which have previously been identified as key-lifestyle behaviours associated with obesity at this age. Regarding the long-term outcomes, ToyBox aims to assist preschool children’s optimal growth and development, long-term health and wellbeing and to prevent overweight and obesity.
3. What will happen after the completion of the ToyBox-?
After the completion of the ToyBox-intervention, the research team will aim to assess its impact, outcome and cost-effectiveness. The key findings of the study will be disseminated to the public and to the scientific community and recommendations will be provided to public health policy makers and programme planners. Based on the results of the study, the potential of expanding ToyBox will also be considered.
4. Why is it important for preschool children to drink water?
Water is vital for life. More than 65% of the human body consists of water. Every day the body loses water via urine, sweat and breath. It is very important to replace the water lost every day in order to preserve the body’s function and performance. Losing 1% of body weight as water can decrease the ability to concentrate and perform well. Losses of 4% or more may cause dizziness, fatigue and headaches. Children are more sensitive to water losses than adults. Children at the ages of 3 to 6 years should drink 0.8 to 1 liter of water daily (i.e. 5-6 glasses per day).
5. Why focus on the consumption of healthy morning and afternoon snacks, since these snacks are such small meals?
By consuming healthy morning and afternoon snacks, preschoolers receive an important part of the energy and nutrients they need for their optimum growth and development, as well as to concentrate and perform well throughout the day. In addition, morning and afternoon snacks are important to prevent large gaps between main meals which may lead to high energy intake and higher risk for overweight.
6. Why is it important to limit sitting time of preschool children?
Various scientific studies have shown that many preschool children spend much of their time on sedentary activities (e.g. TV viewing, using the computer, colouring, etc.). Children, who spend a lot of time on sedentary activities throughout the day, are at higher risk for overweight compared to children who sit down less. Also, children who, for example watch a lot of TV may have lower bone density, more aggression (physical or verbal) and may show more social withdrawal, sleep disturbances agitation and irritability, etc. compared to children who watch less TV.
7. How can parents assist their children to adopt the lifestyle changes promoted in the ToyBox intervention?
The four-targeted behaviours (drinking, snacking, physical activity, sedentary behavior) which are integrated with a lot of engagement into the daily life of the kindergarten should also continue at children’s home. For this reason, the ToyBox material includes newsletters, tip-cards and posters specifically designed to support parents at home. These include information and ideas on how parents can actively and enthusiastically support their children to adopt these behaviours but also adopt them themselves.