Family-based day care workers can be powerful allies in the state’s battle to curb childhood obesity by influencing diets and physical activities, says new research from the University of Connecticut. Childhood obesity has emerged as one of the most serious and widespread health threats in the United States. Nationally, 17 percent of children ages 2 to 19 (about 1 in 6) are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The obesity problem is particularly acute among Hispanic children. In Connecticut, for example, 16.7 percent of Hispanic children ages 2 to 5 participating in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program were overweight and 18 percent were obese, compared to non-Hispanic black children (13.6 percent overweight, 14.2 percent obese) or non-Hispanic white children (14.5 percent overweight, 13.5 percent obese), according to 2011 data.