International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
School of Medical and Health Sciences / School of Science
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Early childhood is a critical stage for nutrition promotion, and childcare settings have the potential for wide-reaching impact on food intake. There are currently no Australian national guidelines for childcare food provision, and the comparability of existing guidelines across jurisdictions is unknown. This project aimed to map and compare childcare food provision guidelines and to explore perspectives amongst early childhood nutrition experts for alignment of jurisdictional childcare food provision guidelines with the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG). A desktop review was conducted and formed the basis of an online survey. A national convenience sample of childhood nutrition experts was surveyed. Existing guideline recommendations for food group serving quantities were similar across jurisdictions but contained many minor differences. Of the 49 survey respondents, most (84–100%) agreed with aligning food group provision recommendations to provide at least 50% of the recommended ADG serves for children. Most (94%) agreed that discretionary foods should be offered less than once per month or never. Jurisdictional childcare food provision guidelines do not currently align, raising challenges for national accreditation and the provision of support and resources for services across jurisdictions. Childhood nutrition experts support national alignment of food provision guidelines with the ADG.
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