Research Original Research| Volume 115, ISSUE 5, P724-730, May 2015

Policy Improves What Beverages Are Served to Young Children in Child Care

Published:September 11, 2014DOI:



      During 2008, we conducted a statewide survey on beverages served to preschool-aged children in California child care that identified a need for beverage policy. During 2011, the US Department of Agriculture began requiring that sites participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) make drinking water available throughout the day and serve only low-fat or nonfat milk to children aged 2 years and older. During 2012, the California Healthy Beverages in Childcare law additionally required that all child-care sites eliminate all beverages with added sweetener and limit 100% juice to once daily.


      To assess potential policy effects, we repeated the statewide survey in 2012. During 2008 and 2012, a cross-sectional sample of ∼1,400 licensed child-care sites was randomly selected after stratifying by category (ie, Head Start, state preschool, other CACFP center, non-CACFP center, CACFP home, and non-CACFP home).


      Responses were obtained from 429 sites in 2008 and 435 in 2012. After adjustment for child-care category, significant improvements in 2012 compared with 2008 were found; more sites served water with meals/snacks (47% vs 28%; P=0.008) and made water available indoors for children to self-serve (77% vs 69%; P=0.001), and fewer sites served whole milk usually (9% vs 22%; P=0.006) and 100% juice more than once daily (20% vs 27%; P=0.038). During 2012, 60% of sites were aware of beverage policies and 23% were judged fully compliant with the California law.


      A positive effect occurred on beverages served after enactment of state and federal policies. Efforts should continue to promote beverage policies and support their implementation.


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      L. D. Ritchie is director of research, Atkins Center for Weight and Health, University of California, Berkeley, and director and cooperative extension specialist, Nutrition Policy Institute, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Office of the President, University of California, Oakland.


      S. Sharma is director of population and public health research, Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council Foundation, Irving, TX; at the time of the study, she was an assistant researcher, Atkins Center for Weight and Health, University of California, Berkeley.


      G. Gildengorin is a senior statistician, Atkins Center for Weight and Health, University of California, Berkeley.


      P. Crawford is director, Atkins Center for Weight and Health, University of California, Berkeley.


      S. Yoshida is executive director, Sarah Samuels Center for Public Health Research and Evaluation, Oakland, CA.


      E. Braff-Guajardo is program officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Battle Creek, MI; at the time of the study, she was senior nutrition policy advocate, California Food Policy Advocates, Oakland.