Day Care Snacks Lacking in Nutritional Value
A new Cincinnati Children’s study indicates that children in day care are not getting the nutrition they need from daily snacks.
The study, published online in the journal Childhood Obesity, is the first of its kind to compare meals to snacks. Snacks are an integral part of preschool-aged children’s diets, typically making up 26 percent of their daily calorie intake.
Researchers from Cincinnati Children’s reviewed menus at 258 child care centers in southwestern Ohio, analyzing the average weekly frequency for servings of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, juice (100 percent) and sweet or salty foods. They found that the composition of lunches differed from snacks in all food categories.
Fruits, vegetables and meats were rarely included in snacks, but were listed almost daily as a component of lunches. Conversely, 87 percent of centers served sweet and salty foods – such as gummy snacks, pretzels and crackers – at snack time more than three times per week, but rarely at lunch.
“Snack time for kids is a missed opportunity,” said Kristen A. Copeland, MD, from the Division of General and Community Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s and the study’s lead author. “With some 75 percent of kids ages 3–5 in child care, revising the types of foods and beverages served at snacks in child care may be a way to address the growing obesity problem.”