The Effect of Meal Preparation Time on Food Expenditure and Nutritional Quality of Menus in Family Child-Care Homes in King County, Washington
Faerber, Emily Christine
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<bold>Background:</bold> A full time child-care program is expected to provide at least one-half to two-thirds of a child's daily nutrient requirements. As such, child-care settings have been acknowledged as an important setting for the assurance of children's nutrition and for the prevention of childhood obesity. It has been suggested that an increase in the use of in-house food preparation in child-care settings could improve the nutrient profile of menus and decrease food costs. However, a limited number of studies have examined the effect of meal preparation time on nutritional quality and food expenditure in the general population, and no studies have assessed this relationship in child-care settings. <bold>Objective:</bold> To investigate the association between meal preparation time and food expenditure and nutritional quality of menus in family child-care homes. <bold>Methods:</bold> Fifty-nine family child-care providers participated in this study. Participants recorded time spent in meal preparation and menus served over a period of five consecutive days of operation, and collected receipts for food items purchased. Multiple linear regression models were used to investigate the associations of breakfast and lunch preparation time with each - food expenditure, and nutritional quality of the menu adjusting for covariates. Nutritional quality of the menu was quantified using mean adequacy ratio (MAR), sodium Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) ratio, percent calories from sugar, and percent calories from <italic>trans</italic> fat. <bold>Results:</bold> There was no observed relationship between breakfast preparation time and food expenditure (p = 0.499), although there was an inverse trend between lunch preparation time and lunch food expenditure (p = 0.110). There was no statistically significant relationship between breakfast or lunch preparation time and indicators of nutritional quality of the menus. There was a direct trend between breakfast preparation time and percent of calories from <italic>trans</italic> fat (p = 0.073) and a direct trend between lunch preparation time and MAR (p = 0.073). <bold>Conclusion:</bold> In this sample, there is insufficient evidence to posit that there is a relationship between time spent in food preparation and food expenditure or measures of the nutritional quality of menus. Future research is needed to understand the role of time spent in food preparation in determining food expenditure and nutritional quality of the menus served at family child-care homes.
- Nutritional sciences