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

January 2023

Policy, system, and environmental interventions addressing obesity and diet-related outcomes in early childhood education settings: A systematic review

Early childhood education (ECE) settings play an important role in child dietary intake and excess weight gain. Policy, systems, and environment (PSE) approaches have potential to reduce disparities in children at higher risk for obesity. The purpose of this review was to (1) characterize the inclusion of populations at higher risk for obesity in ECE More

July 2022

Child and Adult Care Food Program: Impacts of COVID-19 Differences in Reimbursement Rates on Family Childcare Home Providers, Children, and Families

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), the largest U.S. nutrition program for childcare, provides tiered reimbursements to family childcare homes (FCCHs) to serve healthy foods to a large proportion of children from households with low incomes. Due to COVID-19, all FCCHs on CACFP temporarily received the higher Tier I reimbursement rate. The aims More

April 2022

Child-Directed Marketing, Health Claims, and Nutrients in Popular Beverages

Fruit drinks are a major source of added sugar in children’s diets. This study describes the associations between front-of-package child-directed marketing (i.e., sports, fantasy, or child-directed imagery; child-directed text) and (1) health-related claims and (2) nutrient content of fruit drinks, 100% juices, and flavored waters. Beverage purchase data from a national sample of 1,048 households More

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