Comparing the nutrition environment and practices of home- and centre-based child-care facilities
Public Health Nutrition
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Objective To assess and compare the nutrition environment and practices (as they relate to pre-schoolers) of centre- and home-based child-care facilities. Design Using a cross-sectional study design, nineteen child-care facilities (ten centre-based, nine home-based) were assessed for one full day using the Environment and Policy Assessment and Observation (EPAO) tool (consisting of a day-long observation/review of the nutrition environment, practices and related documents). Specifically, eight nutrition-related subscales were considered. Setting Child-care facilities in London, Ontario, Canada. Subjects Child-care facilities were recruited through directors at centre-based programmes and the providers of home-based programmes. Results The mean total nutrition environment EPAO scores for centre- and home-based facilities were 12·3 (sd 1·94) and 10·8 (sd 0·78) out of 20 (where a higher score indicates a more supportive environment with regard to nutrition), respectively. The difference between the total nutrition environment EPAO score for centre- and home-based facilities was approaching significance (P=0·055). For both types of facilities, the highest nutrition subscale score (out of 20) was achieved in the staff behaviours domain (centre mean=17·4; home mean=17·0) and the lowest was in the nutrition training and education domain (centre mean=3·6; home mean=2·0). Conclusions Additional research is needed to confirm these findings. In order to better support child-care staff and enhance the overall nutrition environment in child care, modifications to food practices could be adopted. Specifically, the nutritional quality of foods/beverages provided to pre-schoolers could be improved, nutrition-related training for child-care staff could be provided, and a nutrition curriculum could be created to educate pre-schoolers about healthy food choices.