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The Child Health Initiative for Lifelong Eating and Exercise (CHILE) Plus is a multi-component nutrition and physical activity education program for preschool age children and their families. CHILE Plus is the dissemination project of CHILE, a randomized control trial conducted by the University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center (UNM PRC). CHILE Plus is based on the socioecological model and includes 6 components that fit into this model: the classroom curriculum, staff professional development, food service, family engagement, grocery store collaboration, and partnership with local health care providers and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program providers. 

Intervention Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Reducing Screen Time, Food Insecurity/Food Assistance

SNAP-Ed Strategies: Direct Education, PSE Change

Intervention Reach and Adoption

CHILE Plus primarily works with Head Start and licensed child care centers that enroll predominantly Latino and/or American Indian children between the ages of three and five. Mothers are the primary adult audience, although it is recommended to include fathers and other caregivers, particularly grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, in adult educational activities. Currently CHILE Plus is implemented in half of the Head Start programs in New Mexico. CHILE Plus integrates SNAP-Ed efforts with Head Start programs, providing a braiding of nutrition services for vulnerable low-income children and their families throughout New Mexico.

Settings: Pre-K & Childcare, Community-wide, Tribal Reservations, Retail

 Population/Age Group: Preschool, Parents/Caregivers

Race: American Indian or Alaska Native

Ethnicity: Hispanic or Latino Origin

Intervention Components

CHILE Plus includes an evidence-based nutrition and physical activity curriculum for direct education and multiple PSE components. Based on the socio-ecological model, CHILE Plus includes preschool aged children enrolled in early childcare education settings and their families, teaching and food service staff, local health care providers, and local grocery stores. CHILE Plus uses a multi-modal learning approach to include in-person professional development training coupled with the online learning collaborative for teaching and food service staff. CHILE Plus team has adapted CHILE Plus professional development trainings into an interactive online format. Content includes healthy eating, active living, and family engagement strategies. This interactive training will make training during COVID-19 more accessible as well as increase reach and contact with the Head Start programs 

Intervention Materials

CHILE Plus includes: 

  • Curriculum: 64 nutrition lessons designed to be carried out over the course of 2 years and 115 structured physical activities, all developmentally appropriate for children aged 3-5 years
  • CHILE Plus Family Engagement Materials: nutrition and physical activity newsletters, activities, and recipes
  • Virtual Professional Training: health education for teachers and kitchen staff; demonstration of physical activity and nutrition curriculum
Evidence Summary

In 2015, an evaluation of CHILE Plus found: 

  • CHILE Plus participants had a slight (.17 servings) increase in fruit and vegetable consumption from baseline to follow-up, but the difference wasn't statistically significant.
  • CHILE Plus participants had a decrease (.69 days) of days when half the plate was fruits and vegetables from baseline to follow-up. The decrease was statistically significant (p<.05).
  • There was an association between the frequency with which children helped prepare meals and the average servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Children who helped prepare meals at least once per day consumed significantly more fruits and vegetables than children who almost never helped prepare meals.

In 2022, CHILE Plus teachers reported conducting 768 CHILE Plus classroom nutrition lessons, offering 9,615 tasting opportunities. Target foods were served during a meal or snack in 87.4% of all weeks reported. A majority (80.7%) of all classroom days in session reported at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity, and 35.3% reported 60 minutes or more, an average of 60.05 minutes per day of structured PA. Published research on CHILE include the following:

Evaluation Indicators

Based on the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, the following outcome indicators can be used to evaluate intervention progress and success.

 Readiness and Capacity - Short Term (ST)Changes - Medium Term (MT)Effectiveness and Maintenance - Long Term (LT)Population Results (R)
IndividualST1, ST3MT1, MT3  
Environmental Settings   
Sectors of Influence   
Evaluation Materials

CHILE Plus evaluation materials include: 

  • Online module checklists, wherein teachers report weekly completion of specified nutrition lessons; how many children were present; how many tasted the food; minutes of structured physical activity per day, and any comments.
  • Professional development evaluations, completed at each session and analyzed for appropriateness, fit, and to identify additional training needs.
Additional Information

Website: The CHILE Plus website includes the CHILE Plus curriculum, family engagement materials, online module checklist, a training video, and more. 

Contact Person:

Nan Zeng, PhD

Principal Investigator



*Updated as of October 2, 2023