Providing nutritious food and healthy activity levels in childcare environments

February 20, 2014 by Amanda Horswill
Providing nutritious food and healthy activity levels in childcare environments
Sandgate Child Care centre worker Kate Nelson prepares and serves food to the children in her care.

You've filled the fridge with fruit and vegetables, put a timer on the TV and your mantra is: "Go outside and play." But how do you know your family's healthy lifestyle ethos is mirrored at childcare?

A new, free program called LEAPS - Learning, Eating, Active Play and Sleep - led by QUT in partnership with NAQ Nutrition is providing professional development and resources for Queensland early childhood education and care services such as Family Day Care, Kindergartens and Childcare on providing nutritious food and healthy activity levels for the children in their care.

"There are some early childhood services that do actively promote breastfeeding, provide and who are doing a really good job keeping their kids active enough to satisfy the national guidelines,'' QUT Associate Professor Danielle Gallegos said.

"However, there are so many pressures surrounding food and physical activity at services - time, money, staff expertise, facilities... There are a thousand variables that make each provider's service delivery different.

"The information around these issues also changes as research progresses.

"The LEAPS program provides information and tips on how to meet the current guidelines on nutrition and , in practical ways. For example, there are a number of fact sheets available on the LEAPS website including budget buying, healthy snacks, recipes and active play activities in small spaces.

"And the services who do not provide food may find it hard to address problems with what parents pack in their child's lunchbox. It can be very hard for an educator to talk to a parent about these issues and to assist them in making nutritious choices.

"The LEAPS program provides really practical strategies on how to get that conversation started and how to successfully get the message across."

Sandgate Child Care director Colleen Pavey said she and educators at her Brighton Rd, Sandgate, centre completed LEAPS last October, as part of their ongoing program.

"We had completed courses before in nutrition, however, they were usually talking about older children and we had to adapt it to suit our age group,'' Ms Pavey said.

"There is a new national quality standard that we must meet as a childcare service, so we are always looking for ways to improve. We do supply food at Sandgate Child Care - breakfast, lunch and morning and afternoon tea and a late snack, and our cook, Kate Nelson, always ensures the food is fresh and nutritious.

"But because this course was specifically tailored to , it was amazing in terms of new ideas.

"Something we did immediately was to introduce vegetable pieces into the fruit platters served for morning and afternoon tea. We expected that the children would not be that receptive, but the children have taken to it really well, and they especially love the strips of capsicum and the baby cucumbers. Most children were pretty willing to try something new.

"And I have also started to order low-fat milk, for the children aged older than two."

Explore further: Healthy Lunchbox Challenge helps influence healthy eating habits in children

Related Stories

Healthy Lunchbox Challenge helps influence healthy eating habits in children

February 18, 2014
During the school year, 21 million children receive free or reduced-price lunches, yet less than 10% of those children participate in the Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Service Program. This discrepancy places responsibility ...

Tips for taking the pain out of packing school lunch boxes

January 29, 2014
School starts across most of Australia this week, so parents and carers are breaking out the lunch boxes once again. For some, preparing food that kids will want to eat can become something of a dreaded chore over time, so ...

Research aims to prevent obesity by reaching parents, young children through child care

November 16, 2011
A Kansas State University research group is jumping ahead to improve nutrition and physical activity among young children and prevent childhood obesity.

Passing bowls family-style teaches day-care kids to respond to hunger cues, fights obesity

January 13, 2014
When children and child-care providers sit around a table together at mealtime, passing bowls and serving themselves, children learn to recognize when they are full better than they do when food is pre-plated for them, reports ...

New study highlights how child care providers can be part of the solution for childhood obesity

November 8, 2012
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys revealed that over 21% of children 2 to 5 years old were considered overweight or obese. Child care settings can serve as a platform to teach children about nutrition ...

School 'nutrition report cards' spur healthy choices

December 11, 2013
Step away from that ice cream sandwich: Point-of-sale technology may help students eating in school cafeterias refrain from devouring junky frozen treats, flavored drinks and potato chips when their parents receive "nutrition ...

Recommended for you

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.