School of Medical and Health Sciences
Overweight and obesity in childhood is a significant public health issue. Family day care (FDC) offers a setting where good eating habits can be nurtured in young children, yet often the food environment is unhealthy. This study aims to determine FDC educators’ knowledge and confidence about nutrition and the barriers and enablers to supporting healthy food environments. Australian FDC educators were recruited to a mixed methods study using self-administered e-surveys and qualitative in-depth interviews. The survey data (n = 188) revealed good knowledge about sugary foods, but poor knowledge of protein-rich foods. Nutrition knowledge was not associated with confidence to make nutrition recommendations. Interviews (n = 9) revealed parents’ dietary choices and educators’ personal beliefs as barriers to healthy food environments, although importantly, the FDC educator role was identified as being pivotal in supporting the health and wellbeing of children and their families. This study highlights that FDC-specific nutrition education and support is vital to ensure children at FDC and their families are exposed to healthy food environments. Research to investigate specific avenues for nutrition education promotion programs specifically designed to support the unique role played by FDC educators is needed, in order to support the long-term health and welfare of the next generation of Australians.
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Exercise, nutrition, lifestyle and other interventions for optimal health across the lifespan