To explore nutrition and food provision in pre-school nurseries in order to develop interventions to promote healthy eating in pre-school settings.
Quantitative data were gathered using questionnaires and professional menu analysis.
In the community, at pre-school nurseries.
All 130 nurseries across Liverpool were a sent questionnaire (38 % response rate); thirty-four menus were returned for analysis (26 % response rate).
Only 21 % of respondents stated they had adequate knowledge on nutrition for pre-school children. Sixty-one per cent of cooks reported having received only a ‘little’ advice on healthy eating and this was often not specific to under-5 s nutrition. Fifty-seven per cent of nurseries did not regularly assess their menus for nutritional quality. The menu analysis revealed that all menus were deficient in energy, carbohydrate, Fe and Zn. Eighty-five per cent of nurseries had Na/salt levels which exceed guidelines.
Nurseries require support on healthy eating at policy, knowledge and training levels. This support should address concerns relating to both menu planning and ingredients used in food provision and meet current guidelines on food provision for the under-5 s.