Improving the implementation of nutrition guidelines in childcare centres improves child dietary intake: findings of a randomised trial of an implementation intervention

Kirsty Seward, Luke Wolfenden, Meghan Finch, John Wiggers, Rebecca Wyse, Jannah Jones, Sze Lin Yoong
Public Health Nutrition 2018, 21 (3): 607-617

OBJECTIVE: Evidence suggests that improvements to the childcare nutrition environment can have a positive impact on child dietary intake. The primary aim of the present study was to assess, relative to usual care, the effectiveness of a multi-strategy implementation intervention in improving childcare compliance with nutrition guidelines. As a secondary aim, the impact on child dietary intake was assessed.

DESIGN: Parallel-group, randomised controlled trial design. The 6-month intervention was designed to overcome barriers to implementation of the nutrition guidelines that had been identified by applying the theoretical domains framework.

SETTING: Hunter New England region, New South Wales, Australia.

SUBJECTS: Forty-five centre-based childcare services.

RESULTS: There were no differences between groups in the proportion of services providing food servings (per child) compliant with nutrition guideline recommendations for all five (5/5) food groups at follow-up (i.e. full compliance). Relative to control services, intervention services were more likely to be compliant with guidelines (OR; 95 % CI) in provision of fruit (10·84; 1·19, 551·20; P=0·0024), meat and meat alternatives (8·83; 1·55, -; P=0·023), dairy (8·41; 1·60, 63·62; P=0·006) and discretionary foods (17·83; 2·15, 853·73; P=0·002). Children in intervention services consumed greater servings (adjusted difference; 95 % CI) of fruit (0·41; 0·09, 0·73; P=0·014) and vegetables (0·70; 0·33, 1·08; P<0·001).

CONCLUSIONS: Findings indicate that service-level changes to menus in line with dietary guidelines can result in improvements to children's dietary intake. The study provides evidence to advance implementation research in the setting as a means of enhancing child public health nutrition.


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