Comparison of menus to actual foods and beverages served in North Carolina child-care centers.
Menus from child-care centers are an important source of information for parents, researchers, and child-care regulators, but previous research suggests that menus do not accurately represent foods served. The purpose of this study was to compare menus with actual foods and beverages served to children in child-care centers. Menus were collected and a dietary observation was conducted to document all foods and beverages served to children during the course of 1 day in 84 child-care centers in North Carolina in the fall of 2005. Frequencies of foods and beverages on the menus vs those served were computed by eating occasion, food category, and individual foods and beverages. Of the 254 meals and snacks served, 131 (52%) meals and snacks matched entirely what was stated on the menu. Of the 820 individual foods and beverages served, 710 (86.6%) matched those listed on the menus. An additional 110 foods and beverages were served but not listed on the menus. Grains, juice, and vegetables were served less often than indicated on the menus, and milk, protein-rich foods, fruits, mixed dishes, and foods of low nutritional value were served more often than listed on the menus. Overall, just over half of all meals and snacks matched menus, and nearly 90% of individual foods and beverages served matched those stated on menus. Parents of children in child care and dietetics practitioners providing consultation to child-care centers can encourage not only provision of healthy foods and beverages, but also accurate menus in child care.
Benjamin Neelon, SE; Copeland, KA; Ball, SC; Bradley, L; Ward, DS
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