About Feeding Children: Mealtimes in Child-Care Centers in Four Western States

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, Las Vegas, NV 89123, USA.
Journal of the American Dietetic Association (Impact Factor: 3.92). 03/2008; 108(2):340-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.jada.2007.09.006
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study was conducted to describe mealtimes and explore routines, policies, and training in child-care centers. Following an intensive review of mealtimes, staff and director questionnaires were created. Using a stratified random sampling protocol and following the Tailored Design Method, directors and staff from licensed child-care centers from California, Colorado, Idaho, and Nevada were surveyed. Center and staff characteristics were compared among the four states and three census areas using analysis of variance and chi(2) analyses, as appropriate. To adjust for multiple comparisons, a stringent P value of <0.001 was used for post hoc comparisons. Responses were received from 568 centers (representing 1,190 staff and 464 directors). Mealtimes generally occurred in the classroom, where an adult sat at the table with the children, served some food, poured the drinks, and ate some of the center-provided food. Less than half of centers reported using "family-style" service, although this style allows children the opportunity to self-serve food. Staff received substantially less training on feeding children (42%) than on nutrition (68%) and child development (95%). These findings bring focus to the need to educate child-care staff and directors about the impact of mealtime environments on child health and development.

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    • "Cependant, une fois exposé à une offre alimentaire équilibrée, l'enfant prend la responsabilité de choisir la quantité qu'il souhaite manger. Dès les premiers mois de vie, les enfants ressentent très fortement leurs signaux de faim et de satiété (Satter, 1986; Satter, 1995; Sigman-Grant et al., 2008). En mangeant au-delà de sa faim, ne serait-ce qu'une ou deux bouchées, l'enfant s'éloignera tranquillement de ses signaux de faim et de satiété et cela aura possiblement pour effet, à long terme, d'augmenter ses apports alimentaires (Satter, 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: Eating attitudes and behaviours developed during early childhood have a major impact on the future relationship of the eater with regard to food. And it is the parent who has the most influential role in this respect. This study is aimed at bringing out the practices observed and the attitudes adopted by Québec parents of pre-school age children in order to help them "eat properly." Data was collected using postcards that were distributed around Québec day-care centres where they were handed out to parents. The analysis of the answers to the open-ended question on the postcard was carried out using Jean-Pierre Poulain's food intake model as a basis. 1257 postcards were used for analytical purposes. The data gathered initially allowed us to understand the way in which parents perceived the idea of "eating properly." The diametrically opposed notions of quality and quantity were made very clear. This study brings out the range of strategies used by Québec parents at mealtimes. The data gathered, which is extremely relevant to public health, will allow one to determine what key messages need to be passed on to these stakeholders when it comes to developing small children's eating habits.
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    • "Because the Head Start Program Performance Standards are intentionally broad (12) to allow for the variation in culture and resources where programs are implemented, the survey focused on more specific practices than those included in the standards. Survey questions pertaining to mealtime practices and portion sizes were adapted from an existing instrument (13), and original questions about BMI assessment and perceived food insecurity were developed for the SHAPES survey. The targeted survey respondents were program directors, who were encouraged to obtain assistance from their programs’ health and nutrition specialists when completing the survey. "
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    ABSTRACT: Head Start is a federally funded early childhood education program that serves just over 900,000 US children, many of whom are at risk for obesity, are living in food insecure households, or both. The objective of this study was to describe Head Start practices related to assessing body mass index (BMI), addressing food insecurity, and determining portion sizes at meals. A survey was mailed in 2008 to all eligible Head Start programs (N = 1,810) as part of the Study of Healthy Activity and Eating Practices and Environments in Head Start. We describe program directors' responses to questions about BMI, food insecurity, and portion sizes. The response rate was 87% (N = 1,583). Nearly all programs (99.5%) reported obtaining height and weight data, 78% of programs calculated BMI for all children, and 50% of programs discussed height and weight measurements with all families. In 14% of programs, directors reported that staff often or very often saw children who did not seem to be getting enough to eat at home; 55% saw this sometimes, 26% rarely, and 5% never. Fifty-four percent of programs addressed perceived food insecurity by giving extra food to children and families. In 39% of programs, staff primarily decided what portion sizes children received at meals, and in 55% the children primarily decided on their own portions. Head Start programs should consider moving resources from assessing BMI to assessing household food security and providing training and technical assistance to help staff manage children's portion sizes.
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