Dietary Intake of Children Attending Full-Time Child Care: What Are They Eating Away from the Child-Care Center?
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BACKGROUND: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends children attending full-time child care obtain one-half to two-thirds of daily nutrient needs during their time at the child-care center, leaving one-third to one-half to be consumed away from the center. Although there are guidelines to optimize dietary intake of children attending child care, little is known about what these children consume away from the center.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the dietary intake away from the child-care center for preschool-aged children relative to the expected one-third to one-half proportion of recommended intake, and to examine the relationships between energy intake away from the center with weight status, food group consumption, and low-income status.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional study conducted between November 2009 and January 2011.
PARTICIPANTS/SETTING: Participants (n=339) attended 30 randomly selected, licensed, full-time child-care centers in Hamilton County, OH.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Child weight status and dietary intake (food/beverages consumed outside the child-care setting from the time of pickup from the center to the child's bedtime), including energy and servings of fruits, vegetables, milk, 100% juice, sugar-sweetened beverages, and snack foods.
STATISTICAL ANALYSES PERFORMED: Generalized linear mixed models were used to examine independent associations of food group servings and low-income status to energy intake and energy intake to child weight status.
RESULTS: The mean energy intake consumed away from the center (685±17 kcal) was more than the recommended target range (433 to 650 kcal). Intakes of fruits, vegetables, and milk were less than recommended. Food group servings and overweight/obesity status were positively associated with energy intake while away from the center.
CONCLUSIONS: Preschool-aged children consume more energy and less fruits, vegetables, and milk outside of child-care centers than recommended. Overweight status was associated with children's dietary intake after leaving the child-care center. It may be beneficial to include parents in obesity prevention efforts targeting children attending child-care centers.