Barriers and Facilitators to Compliance with a State Healthy Eating Policy in Early Care and Education Centers
Background: Early care and education (ECE) policies can improve childhood obesity risk factors. We evaluated barriers and facilitators to implementing mandatory nutrition standards for foods provided in South Carolina ECE centers serving lowincome children, comparing centers participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) with non-CACFP centers.
Methods: We mailed 261 surveys (demographics, policies and practices, barriers and facilitators) to center directors after new state nutrition standards were implemented in South Carolina. We conducted univariate and bivariate analyses to explore relationships between barriers, facilitators, and center-level characteristics, by CACFP status.
Results: We received 163 surveys (62% response rate). Centers had a median [interquartile range (IQR)] of 5 (4–7) classrooms and 59 (37.5–89) total children enrolled. More than half (60.1%) of directors reported they were moderately or fully informed about the standards. The most common barriers were food costs (17.8%) and children’s food preferences (17.8%). More non-CACFP directors reported food costs as a barrier (28.6% vs. 6.5%, p < 0.001), having to spend additional money on healthier foods (48.8% vs. 28.6%, p = 0.01), and having to provide additional nutrition education to parents (28.6% vs. 11.7%, p = 0.01), compared with CACFP directors.
Conclusions: Center directors were generally well informed about the nutrition standards. The most common barriers to implementing the standards were food costs and children’s food preferences. Centers participating in CACFP may be in a better position to adhere to new state nutrition standards, as they receive some federal reimbursement for serving healthy foods and may be more accustomed to regulation.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Published in Childhood Obesity, Volume 14, Issue 6, 2018, pages 349-357.
©Copyright 2018, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers
Zaltz, D., Pate, R., O'Neill, J., Neelon, B., & Benjamin-Neelon, S. (2018). Barriers and Facilitators to Compliance with a State Healthy Eating Policy in Early Care and Education Centers. Childhood Obesity, 14(6), 349-357.