Early childhood is a critical period for establishing a healthy diet and promoting healthy food preferences. Research in this area focuses on settings where children ages 0-5 spend their time, including preschools and child-care centers, as well as policies and practices that influence families’ ability to provide healthy foods and beverages in early childhood.

Research & Publications See all

February 2022

Marketing of sugar-sweetened children’s drinks and parents’ misperceptions about benefits for young children

Despite expert recommendations, U.S. parents often serve sugar-sweetened children’s drinks, including sweetened fruit-flavored drinks and toddler milks, to young children. This qualitative research explored parents’ understanding of common marketing tactics used to promote these drinks and whether they mislead parents to believe the drinks are healthy and/or necessary for children. We conducted nine focus groups More

January 2022

Front-of-package claims & imagery on fruit-flavored drinks and exposure by household demographics

Young children regularly consume sugary fruit drinks, in part because parents may falsely believe they are healthful due to front-of-package (FOP) claims and imagery. The goal of this study was to assess: 1) the prevalence of FOP claims/imagery on fruit-flavored beverages purchased by U.S. households with 0-5-year-olds, and 2) proportional differences in beverages purchased with More

December 2021

Food Outlet Density, Distance, and Food Quality Offered to Preschool-Aged Children at Family Child Care Homes

This study aimed to examine how food environments around family child care homes (FCCHs) are associated with the healthfulness of foods served to children. The study included cross-sectional data from a mail survey of 132 Mississippi FCCHs. Rural FCCHs with higher counts of supermarkets, convenience stores, and produce stores had lower compliance with selected best More

November 2021

Changing Policies and Practices to Implement Beverage Consensus Recommendations

In 2018, Healthy Eating Research (HER)—a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)—developed a national research agenda to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) and increase access to and consumption of safe drinking water among 0- to 5-year-olds. Through this process, it became clear that a lack of consistent recommendations for beverage More