International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Institute for Nutrition Research
Background: Children aged 2–11 years spend significant hours per week in early childhood education and care (ECEC) and primary schools. Whilst considered important environments to influence children’s food intake, there is heterogeneity in the tools utilised to assess food provision in these settings. This systematic review aimed to identify and evaluate tools used to measure food provision in ECEC and primary schools. Methods: The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews (PRISMA) was followed. Publications (2003–2020) that implemented, validated, or developed measurement tools to assess food provision within ECEC or primary schools were included. Two reviewers extracted and evaluated studies, cross checked by a third reviewer and verified by all authors. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Quality Criteria Checklist (QCC) was used to critically appraise each study. Results: Eighty-two studies were included in the review. Seven measurement tools were identified, namely, Menu review; Observation; Weighed food protocol; Questionnaire/survey; Digital photography; Quick menu audit; and Web-based menu assessment. An evidence-based evaluation was conducted for each tool. Conclusions: The weighed food protocol was found to be the most popular and accurate measurement tool to assess individual-level intake. Future research is recommended to develop and validate a tool to assess service-level food provision.
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Exercise, nutrition, lifestyle and other interventions for optimal health across the lifespan