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J Community Health. 1993 Dec;18(6):363-77.

What can children learn from the menu at the child care center?

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Division of Graduate Nutrition, University of Texas at Austin 78712.


As a result of studies in Texas that indicated menus in child care centers may be depriving children of nutrients, a study was conducted to determine the prevalence of similar problems in 7 states. Menus for breakfast or morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack for 10 consecutive program days were obtained from 171 child care centers. Results of nutrient analysis of the menus were compared against the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for children aged 1 to 3 and 4 to 6. Menus typically provided at least 100 percent of the RDA for protein and the vitamins A, ascorbic acid, B12, and riboflavin. The menus offered an average of only 42 percent of the iron needed by both the younger and older children. In all 7 states the menus provided less than 56 percent of the kilocalories recommended and less than 64 percent of niacin for the 1 to 3 year olds. Mean value for kilocalories for the 3-5 year old averaged 40 percent of recommendation while niacin averaged 48 percent. These findings indicate that attention should be directed toward careful assessment of nutritional adequacy of meals and snacks actually served at child care centers, the children's nutritional intake at the center, and the nutritional content of meals and snacks eaten away from the center.

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