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SSM-Population Health

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Community - Based Participatory Research, Children -- Food


Background: A large portion of preschool-aged children in the United States (US) do not consume enough fruits and vegetables (FV). It is important for childcare providers to know what food choices children in their care are making at mealtime and how to encourage them to eat more FV. The objective of this pilot study was to examine the relationship between FV preference and plate waste among pre-school aged children in a childcare setting using a rapid assessment tool.

Methods: The rapid assessment tool was first pilot tested with 23 children and revised. A repeated cross-sectional design was carried out for three days during fall 2016 in one childcare center. Over three days, the research team collected 100 FV plate waste observations from 30 children who were surveyed simultaneously about their preference (did not try, tried, liked, loved) towards FV. Results: Food preference for FV by preschool children is significantly (p < 0.05) related to plate waste and age. Children that indicated they loved a fruit or vegetable generated the least plate waste. Children that indicated that they did not try a fruit or vegetable generated the most plate waste.

Conclusions: FV preference and plate waste are significantly and inversely correlated. The rapid assessment tool developed should be validated to be used in implementing strategies that increase child preferences and consumption of FV that support lifelong healthy eating behaviors.


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