Nutritional adequacy of menus offered to children of 2 to 5 years in registered child care facilities in Inanda
Nzama, Phindile Favourite
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Introduction: According to the American Dietetic Association, Child care facilities (CCFs) play an essential role in the nutritional status of children as children typically spend 4-8 hours a day at a facility. As a result, the meals should provide at least 50 – 60% of daily nutritional requirements. Worldwide CCF feeding has been found to be nutritionally inadequate as energy and most micronutrient requirements are not met by the meals provided, due to the lack of nutrition knowledge of the caregivers. Studies have shown that with appropriate training there has been improvement in nutritional standards. Aim: The aim of this study was to analyse the nutritional adequacy of menus offered; and to determine the nutritional status of children aged two to five years old in registered child care facilities in the Inanda area. Methodology: CCFs (n=10) in the Inanda area were randomly selected from multiple options to participate in the study. This study was conducted on children (boys (n= 91) and girls (n=109)) of ages two to five years old. Trained fieldworkers and teachers assisted in interviewing parents to complete the socio-demographic questionnaire. The researcher gathered menus and recipes for analysis, using Foodfinder Version 3 Software. The researcher also conducted plate-waste studies to determine consumption patterns during CCF meal times. Anthropometric measurements for weight and height were collected. In order to establish BMI-for-age and height-for-age, the WHO Anthro Software and WHO AnthroPlus Software were used. Ten food handlers (FHs) were interviewed by the researcher on food preparation and serving. Results: Most children (79.40%) originate from extended families that are female-headed. The highest form of education attained by most caregivers in the sample is standard 10 (47.74%) and 45.73% are unemployed. Of the 54.27% employed, 64.71% are informally employed. Most respondents (72.87%) are living on a total household income of less than R2500. The anthropometric results of the children show very low prevalence of severe stunting (1.74%) and stunting (5.42%). Less than halve (34.48%) of the children were at a possible risk of being overweight, 13.79% were overweight and 2.46% obese. The top 20 foods served in CCFs in Inanda were cereal-based staples of rice and maize meal more frequently than meat, dairy products and fruit and vegetables – all served far less frequently. All the CCFs did not meet the 60% of daily requirements for energy, fibre, calcium and vitamin C in foods served. The CCFs have well-equipped, designated kitchens for food storage, preparation, serving and good hygiene practices. Conclusion: Meals served to two to five year olds in registered CCFs in the Inanda area are nutritionally inadequate as most facilities do not contain 60% of the daily nutrient requirements from both daily meals served. Recommendations: CCF owners and Food handlers should receive proper training and retraining on food safety and hygiene and menu planning. The government should increase the subsidy to CCFs in order to meet the nutritional needs of children in order to aid in the alleviation of under-nutrition.