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