Childcare Food Provision Recommendations Vary across Australia: Jurisdictional Comparison and Nutrition Expert Perspectives

Alison Spence, Penelope Love, Rebecca Byrne, Amy Wakem, Louisa Matwiejczyk, Amanda Devine, Rebecca Golley, Ros Sambell

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16 Citations (Scopus)
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Early childhood is a critical stage for nutrition promotion, and childcare settings have the potential for wide-reaching impact on food intake. There are currently no Australian national guidelines for childcare food provision, and the comparability of existing guidelines across jurisdictions is unknown. This project aimed to map and compare childcare food provision guidelines and to explore perspectives amongst early childhood nutrition experts for alignment of jurisdictional childcare food provision guidelines with the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG). A desktop review was conducted and formed the basis of an online survey. A national convenience sample of childhood nutrition experts was surveyed. Existing guideline recommendations for food group serving quantities were similar across jurisdictions but contained many minor differences. Of the 49 survey respondents, most (84–100%) agreed with aligning food group provision recommendations to provide at least 50% of the recommended ADG serves for children. Most (94%) agreed that discretionary foods should be offered less than once per month or never. Jurisdictional childcare food provision guidelines do not currently align, raising challenges for national accreditation and the provision of support and resources for services across jurisdictions. Childhood nutrition experts support national alignment of food provision guidelines with the ADG.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6793
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution(CC BY) license (


  • Childcare
  • Dietary guidelines
  • Early childhood education and care
  • Infant
  • Long day care
  • Nutrition
  • Preschool
  • Toddler


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