Nutrition Compliance Up for Head Start Providers

(HealthDay News) – Head Start child-care providers have greater compliance with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommended feeding practices than Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and non-CACFP providers, according to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Dipti A. Dev, and Brent A. McBride, PhD, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, assessed whether child-care providers met the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics benchmarks and whether attainment of benchmarks varied across child-care contexts (Head Start, CACFP, and non-CACFP). One hundred eighteen child-care providers completed self-administered surveys regarding their feeding practices for 2- to 5-year-old children in 2011 and 2012.

The researchers found that, compared with CACFP and non-CACFP providers, Head Start providers more frequently sat with children during meals, ate the same food, and served meals family style. More nutrition-education opportunities were received by Head Start providers, parents, and children than CACFP and non-CACFP. Compared with CACFP and non-CACFP providers, Head Start providers encouraged more balance and a variety of foods, offered healthier foods, modeled healthy eating, and taught children about nutrition. Across all three contexts, providers used significantly more non-internal than internal mealtime verbal comments.

“Head Start providers had greater compliance with the Academy’s benchmarks compared with CACFP and non-CACFP providers,” the authors write. “Possible reasons for this compliance might be attributed to Head Start nutrition performance standards and increased nutrition-training opportunities for Head Start staff.”

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