South Australian Long Day Care Centres engaged with a nutrition incentive award scheme show consistency with mealtime practice guidelines


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Abstract

Aim:The study aims to describe the meal time and parent communication practices used in South Australian Long Day Care Centres (LDCCs) and explore whether practices differ by engagement in a nutrition incentive award scheme, Start Right-Eat Right.Methods:One hundred eighty-four staff from South Australian LDCCs (81% response rate) completed a 16-item telephone survey. Open and closed questions were asked, with multiple unprompted responses accepted for open questions. Differences by Start Right-Eat Right status (engaged vs not-engaged) were determined using chi-square analysis.Results:Sitting and supervising children while eating (100%), offering meals (98%) and snacks (94%) at regular and predictable intervals, and discussing food served with children (88%) were common mealtime practices. Practices that involved children at mealtimes were also frequent. Engaged centres reported higher frequencies of staff role modelling (80% vs 56%, P= 0.004) and encouraging children to taste foods offered (33% vs 13%, P= 0.021). Centres reported using ‘sometimes foods’ (76%) and food alternatives (42%) to celebrate children's birthdays, with more engaged centres than not-engaged centres using nutritious foods at celebrations (15% vs 6%, P= 0.045). While 59% of respondents indicated that nutrition can be a sensitive topic to discuss with families, over 90% indicated it is important to communicate with parents about nutrition and felt confident to do so.Conclusion:Practices employed by South Australian LDCCs to create a positive mealtime environment were consistent with current guidelines, more so when centres are engaged in a nutrition award scheme.

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