background • Dietary habits are established in childhood and are often maintained into adulthood (thompson RA et al., 2005). Early childhood is the perfect time to teach children good eating habits, especially in nurseries where they spent most of their time (Dosso JA et al., 2017). Currently, the nutrients intake of many children does not meet the dietary guidelines (Pem D et al., 2015). Overweight/obesity is common, and increases rapidly in early childhood. thus, nutrition education and interventions are key to improve children’s health; nursery educators being the main target (Al Mohtadi RM and Al Zboon hS, 2017).
Objective • this study aims to determine the effectiveness of a nutrition education intervention on nutrition status of children aged one to three years old and nutritional knowledge of nursery educators in private and public Lebanese nurseries. Design • 137 children were assessed at baseline. Fifty-six of them were included in the study. Pre and post surveys were conducted including a demographic questionnaire addressed to nurseries’ directors and a nutritional standardized questionnaire addressed to nurseries’ educators. the intervention consisted of nutrition education trainings, anthropometric measurements for children and nutrition activities program during the six-month period. Results • Results indicated an improvement in the full intervention nursery versus the minimal intervention nurseries. the prevalence of overweight children was 44.6% and 36.6% after intervention with an improvement of 8%. Post intervention, the percentage of stunted children remained the same in all nurseries; children in healthy range increased from 55.3% to 62.5% and the percentage of children in excessive range decreased by 4%. the intervention made a significant impact on the nutrition knowledge (p value = 0.064), with a 6.13% improvement between pre and post results. Results demonstrated also a lack of conformity between the offered nutrient intakes and the recommended corresponding references. this non-compliance is due to a deficiency of recommended energy (770.05 kcal vs. 1100 kcal) and carbohydrates intake (101.86g vs. 130g), whereas proteins (14.0%) and fat (33%) intake appears to be consistent. the dietary patterns of children revealed a carbohydrate-based diet with very few consuming a variety of fruit and vegetables. Some changes were made in the dietary choices of the children after the intervention, with the inclusion of more fruits and vegetables and decreased intake of carbohydrate-rich food. Conclusion • Results analysis indicated a need to enhance nurseries educators’ nutrition knowledge and to improve the quality and quantity of food provided to children. A typical menu and directed children activities might be a good additional approach to enhance nutrition and behavioral outcomes. Parent’s involvement seems a good axis for future research.
Keywords : nursery; children nutrition; nursery educator; nutrition educatio; nutrition status; nutrition behavior; nutrition intervention