Survey of Nutrition Practices in Nurseries


The need to prevent childhood obesity extends to our youngest children. Obesity and excessive weight gain in the preschool years are independently associated with higher blood pressure, recurrent wheezing, and other adverse physical and psychosocial health conditions in childhood. Since nearly two-thirds of UK children under five years of age are routinely cared for outside of the home, organised childcare has become an important setting for the prevention of obesity.

While it is known that these environments influence children’s dietary intake, few previous studies have intervened in the organised childcare setting, and even fewer have targeted children in England. In order to develop the necessary interventions, additional information about current dietary practice within these settings is needed.

About the study

The purpose of this study was:

  1. to assess and describe current practices related to healthy eating for young children cared for in nurseries and other early childcare settings
  2. to compare current practice within nurseries and other early childcare settings across England to national nutrition guidance for young children.

We assessed the extent to which self-reported practices align with national guidance outlined in the School Food Trust (now Children’s Food Trust) publication Laying the Table: Recommendations for National Food and Nutrition Guidance for Early Years Settings in England.

We assessed manager-reported practices related to healthy eating and physical activity for this cross-sectional study. We mailed 2000 surveys to a representative sample of nurseries and other early childcare settings from across England who had the option to complete the survey online or on paper.

The study will contribute to the growing body of research on public health nutrition within CEDAR. The data from completed surveys will allow us to describe current practices within nurseries and other early childcare settings as well as the extent to which these practices are aligned with the nutrition guidance provided by the Children’s Food Trust.

Further information

The survey has now finished. For further information, please email Pablo Monsivais or Sara Benjamin Neelon

Paper: Nutrition practices of nurseries in England. Comparison with national guidelines. Sara E. Benjamin Neelon, Thomas Burgoine, Kathryn R. Hesketh, Pablo Monsivais.Appetite, Volume 85, 1 February 2015, Pages 22–29   doi:10.1016/j.appet.2014.11.002