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Staff food-related behaviors and children's tastes of food groups during lunch at child care in Oklahoma

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Description:
Young children should consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods to support growth, while limiting added fat and sugar. A majority of children between the ages of 3 and 5 years attend child care in the United States, which makes this environment and the child-care staff influential at meals. Objective The aim was to determine the association between best-practice food-related behaviors and young children's tastes of fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy, and high-fat/high-sugar foods at child care. Design This was a cross-sectional study. Participants A community-based study with 201 children ages 3 to 5 years from 25 early care and education centers, including 11 tribally affiliated centers and two Head Start programs across Oklahoma. Data collection occurred from fall 2011 to spring 2014. Main outcome measures Classroom observations used the Environmental Policy Assessment Observation tool to measure the staff behaviors and environment. Staff behavior was compared at three different levels: the composite score of staff nutrition behavior, each constituent staff behavior, and staff behaviors grouped into broader feeding behaviors. Tasted food was measured through the Dietary Observation in Child Care method. The children's meals were categorized into the following food groups: fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy, fried vegetable, fried meat, high-fat meat, and high-fat/high-sugar food. Statistical analysis performed Descriptive statistics were calculated for relevant variables. Relationships between the constituent staff behaviors and food groups that children tasted were compared using multilevel mixed-model analysis. Results The mean number of tasted fruit or vegetable items was higher and the mean number of tasted high-fat/high-sugar food items was lower when staff: 1) determined fullness before plate removal when less than half of food was eaten, 2) ate with the children, 3) and talked about healthy food. Conclusions The utilization of the three staff behaviors and their association with higher mean tastes of nutrient-dense items and lower mean tastes of high-fat/high-sugar food items among exposed children demonstrated support for the use of the best practices in early care and education centers. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
Country:
United States
State(s):
Oklahoma

Related resources include summaries, versions, measures (instruments), or other resources in which the current document plays a part. Research products funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation are related to their project records.

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