Brown research supports federal nutritional guidelines for daycare centers

The food study is based on surveys of more than 100 daycare center directors whose facilities cater to children from 18 months to 5 years. | File photo

Researchers from Brown University recently published a study that shows daycare centers serving low-income children and following federal guidelines like the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) have healthier diets than children at centers not following the guidelines.

“CACFP recipients are required to serve food within very specific meal plan parameters, which are monitored,” Brown School of Public Health Research Assistant Professor Patricia Risica, the lead author of the study, said. “Also, CACFP providers and sponsors are required to have continuing education regarding nutrition. To us, the likelihood is that the requirements for meal plans and education make the difference.”

The study is based on surveys of more than 100 daycare center directors whose facilities cater to children from 18 months to 5 years, garnering information on the food served, physical activity, and staff and parent attitudes on health and nutrition. While the study found that nutrition could be improved at all center, those following federal guidelines served healthy foods more frequently.

“I encourage all childcare facilities to follow the CACFP guidelines voluntarily as a check on the nutritional quality of what is being served,” Risica said. “Alternatively, I would encourage the state regulations to include CACFP guidelines for all licensed childcare facilities.”

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