Research Research and Professional Briefs| Volume 113, ISSUE 10, P1346-1353, October 2013

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Benchmarks for Nutrition in Child Care 2011: Are Child-Care Providers across Contexts Meeting Recommendations?

Published:August 02, 2013DOI:


      The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Academy) recommends feeding practices for child-care providers to establish nutrition habits in early childhood to prevent obesity. With >12 million US children in child care, little is known about child-care providers’ feeding practices. The purpose of this study was to examine child-care providers’ feeding practices to assess whether providers met the Academy’s benchmarks and whether attainment of benchmarks varied across child-care contexts (Head Start, Child and Adult Care Food Program [CACFP], and non-CACFP). Cross-sectional data was collected in 2011 and 2012 from 118 child-care providers who completed self-administered surveys regarding their feeding practices for 2- to 5-year-old children. χ2 tests and analysis of variance were used to determine variation across contexts. Head Start providers sat more frequently with children during meals (P=0.01), ate the same foods as children (P=0.001), and served meals family style (P<0.0001) more often compared with CACFP and non-CACFP providers. Head Start providers (P=0.002), parents (P=0.001), and children (P=0.01) received more nutrition-education opportunities compared with CACFP and non-CACFP. Head Start providers encouraged more balance and variety of foods (P<0.05), offered healthier foods (P<0.05), modeled healthy eating (P<0.001), and taught children about nutrition (P<0.001) compared with CACFP and non-CACFP providers. Providers across all three contexts used significantly more non-internal than internal mealtime verbal comments (P<0.0001). Head Start providers had greater compliance with the Academy’s benchmarks compared with CACFP and non-CACFP providers. Possible reasons for this compliance might be attributed to Head Start nutrition performance standards and increased nutrition-training opportunities for Head Start staff. Head Start programs can serve as a model in implementing the Academy’s benchmarks.


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      D. A. Dev is a doctoral student, Division of Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana.


      B. A. McBride is a professor, Department of Human and Community Development, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana.