HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Rome, Italy or Virtually from your home or work.
Ruby Natale, Speaker at Food and Nutrition Conferences
University of Miami School of Medicine, United States


There is a need to improve the nutrition environment of childcare centers serving young children of higher risk and that are underserved, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural communities. Children at the intersection of these two disparities (ethnic minority status and CSHCN) have rarely been studied, yet obesity is 38% higher in children with disabilities compared to their peers without disabilities and three to four times higher in non-Hispanic black and Hispanic preschool age children compared to non-Hispanic whites. These statistics are concerning because obese preschool-age children are five times more likely to be overweight during adolescence

To address this issue, we developed the Healthy Caregivers-Healthy Children program which was designed to implement a nutrition program in child care centers. The goal is aimed at taking children off the trajectory of becoming overweight. The program is underway, however, our baseline data was collected which shows that over 50% of the 240 children we sampled had a BMI in the obese or overweight range. These are children who are ages 2 to 5 years old. Thus, there is clearly a need to intervene. We developed a nutrition wellness program implemented it childcare centers serving children with disabilities. We will discuss how the program was implemented.

Audience Take Away: 

  • Participants will learn a method and strategies for developing a nutrition intervention to address obesity prevention for children with disabilities
  • Participants will learn how child care centers have the ability to impact the growth and development of young children and their families 
  • Participants will learn about mental wellness in addition to physical wellness 
  • Other faculty can learn how to can expand the research in this area by addressing the long-term impacts of a nutrition intervention


Dr. Natale is a pediatric psychologist and Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Miami School of Medicine/Mailman Center for Child Development. She lead’s the Community Wellness Interprofessional Collaborative with a mission to demonstrate, through solid research and scientific methods, the importance of working with young children birth through age 5 to promote a positive health trajectory. With over 40 publications, she has ensured the rapid translation of research from “bench to bedside” to implement innovative, early interventions for young children. Of the utmost importance to her is helping children with disabilities and families achieve optimal outcomes.