Transitioning To New Child-Care Nutrition Policies
Improving foods served in childcare settings may help to address the problem of childhood obesity. This study examined changes occurring at a large university-based preschool in South Carolina (U.S.) in response to the implementation of revised food and nutrition standards. The nutrition content of vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus both pre and post revision was compared. Post-revision vegetarian menus were significantly higher in fiber and significantly lower in sodium than post-revision meat menus, and contained half the amount of cholesterol. The parents surveyed were generally supportive of the menu revisions, although they reacted more positively to increased servings of fruits and vegetables and to popular mainstream meatless meals, than to meat-replacement based menus. The authors suggest that adding more vegetarian menu items has the potential to improve the nutrient content of menus at a relatively low cost, while keeping energy intake, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol levels at a more optimal level.
Abstract excerpted from original source:
“Children who attend child care outside the home may be at increased risk for developing obesity. In 2012, the South Carolina ABC Child Care program issued new standards for food and nutrition. The goal of our study (conducted June to December 2012) was to examine changes that occurred at a large, Columbia, SC, preschool during the implementation of the South Carolina ABC Child Care program standards using an observational design, including a survey of parents and nutrient analysis of menus. The nutrition content of menu items before n=15 days; six of which were vegetarian) and after (n=15 days; six of which were vegetarian) implementation of the new standards was compared. In addition, parents (n=75) were surveyed to examine opinions and support for the changes. Independent samples t tests were used to compare nutrient values before and after menu changes and analysis of variance was used to compare pre- and post-change vegetarian menus and pre- and post-change nonvegetarian menus. There were no significant differences between before and after menus with the exception of a 0.3 cup/day increase in vegetables (P<0.05). Vegetarian menus after the revisions were significantly higher in fiber (13±3 g) than postrevision nonvegetarian menus (11±3 g; P<0.05) and lower in sodium (1,068±207 mg) than postrevision nonvegetarian menus (1,656±488 mg; P<0.05). Standards that received the most parental support were serving at least two vegetables (score of 8.7 on a scale of one to nine) and two fruits per day (score of 8.6) and implementing policies against staff using food as a reward or punishment (score of 8.6). The center-specific policy of only bringing healthy foods for celebrations received the lowest support (score of 5.8). Adding more vegetarian menu items has the potential to improve the nutrient content of menus while keeping energy intake, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol levels at a more optimum level.”