To evaluate whether food behaviours of parents are associated with children's dietary intakes outside the child-care setting, and to compare children's dietary intakes at home with foods and beverages consumed when they are at child-care centres.
In 2005–2006, a survey was completed by parents of at least one child between 3 and 5 years old who attended group child-care centres. Surveys about nutrition practices were completed by centre directors. Research assistants observed foods and beverages consumed by children at lunchtime at the centres.
Sixteen licensed group child-care centres in three underserved New York City communities (South Bronx, East/Central Harlem, Central Brooklyn) and the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Two hundred parents.
Children were more likely to consume healthful foods including fruits or vegetables if parents reported purchasing food from produce stands/farmers’ markets, shopped for frozen or canned fruits frequently and ate family meals or meals prepared at home daily. Children were more likely to consume less healthful foods such as French fries, or fruit drinks, more frequently if parents reported eating meals from fast-food or other restaurants at least once weekly, or if children ate while watching television. Types of foods and beverages offered to children at home (e.g. higher-fat milk, soft drinks and desserts) were less healthful than those offered at child-care centres.
Children's dietary intakes at home need to be improved. Parents need to understand the importance of providing home environments that support healthful food behaviours in children.