Improving Nutrition and Physical Activity in Child Care: What Parents Recommend

Sara E. Benjamin, Jess Haines, Sarah C. Ball, Dianne S. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


A large percentage of children in the United States spend part of their day in out-of-home child care. As rates of obesity continue to rise, especially among young children, child care has become a focus for nutrition and physical activity intervention. Parental involvement is an important component of these efforts. During summer 2006, parents of children in child care were surveyed to better understand their perceived quality of meals, snacks, and physical activity at the child-care center, and their recommendations for improvement. Parents of children who attended 94 licensed child-care centers in North Carolina were invited to complete a brief survey of perceived quality of meals, snacks, and physical activity at their centers using close-ended questions. Open-ended questions were used to identify suggestions for improvement. Five hundred eight parents from 91 child-care centers completed the questionnaire. The majority of parents reported quality of meals and snacks at the center as either excellent (30% meals, 27% snacks) or good (42% meals, 46% snacks). The main recommendations for improving meals and snacks were to increase fruits and vegetables and provide a variety of healthful foods. The majority of parents categorized the quality of physical activity at the center as excellent (36%) or good (46%), and suggested more structured, outdoor activities for children. Findings from this study provide insight into key areas of concern for parents regarding the nutrition and activity environment of child-care centers. This information may be used to create or modify interventions or policies and to help motivate parents to become advocates for change in child care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1907-1911
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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