The food and activity environments of childcare centers in Rhode Island: a directors’ surveyReport as inadecuate

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BMC Nutrition

, 2:41

Nutritional interventions, policies and public health


BackgroundThe food and activity environments of childcare have been identified as promising areas in which to improve nutrition and activity for children.

MethodsOf the 292 centers caring for children 18–60 months of age, 107 randomly selected directors completed a survey. The survey queried nutrition and physical activity practices, attitudes of providers and staff, and demographics of the enrolled children and the center, including participation in the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program CACFP. Responses were compared for CACFP compared with non-CACFP participating centers.

ResultsCACFP center directors reported serving more fruit, fried potatoes, beans, 100 % fruit juice, non-fat milk and water compared with non-CACFP directors. Sixty-four percent of CACFP centers and 87 % of non-CACFP centers served no vegetables the previous day p = .0973.

There were no differences in the amount of physical activity time reported by CACFP status. Also, 81 % of directors reported never or rarely allowing screen time in the previous week.

Directors of Non-CACFP centers were more likely 93 % to strongly agree that they were able to identify healthy foods and 87 % that healthy foods are available where they shop than CACFP center directors 65 %, p = 0.0088, 54 %, p = 0.0354, respectively.

DiscussionMore nutritious foods fruit, beans, 100 % fruit juice, non-fat milk and water were provided in CACFP centers, compared with non-CACFP centers, but no differences in physical activity were identified. However, non-CACFP directors were better able to access and identify healthy foods. CACFP guidelines regarding food served were likely responsible for the more nutritious foods, though CACFP providers may be challenged by fewer skills and lower educational background.

ConclusionsStronger guidelines supporting both food and activity would bolster policies for childcare centers and improve the nutrition and physical activity environments in this setting.

KeywordsFood Diet Physical activity Childcare Centers CACFP Toddler Preschool  Download fulltext PDF

Author: Patricia Markham Risica - Sarah Amin - Angela Ankoma - Eliza Lawson


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