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Power meals: Child care-provided meals are associated with improved child and family health

Originally published on EurekAlert!.

Philadelphia, September 18, 2023 – Very young children who attend child care and receive onsite meals and snacks were more likely to be food secure and in good health, and less likely to be admitted after a hospital emergency department visit than children in child care whose meals and snacks were provided from home, according to a new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, published by Elsevier. These potential benefits could extend beyond the children themselves to their families, including through possible reductions in stress, and to society as a whole through potentially significant healthcare cost savings.

Lead author Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba, PhD, MPH, Executive Director, Children’s HealthWatch; Research Associate Professor, Department of Health Law, Policy & Management, Boston University School of Public Health; and Department of Pediatrics, Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, explained, “Good nutrition in early childhood is an essential foundation for healthy child growth and development, and our research points to the potential impact of policies that provide very young children with wholesome meals while they are in child care.”