Heartland Nutrition and the American Heart Association teamed up to take steps toward improving the nutrition of children in home based childcare providers across the state.
Home Childcare providers received education, resources and tools to improve the nutrition of meals and snacks they serve to children in their care. More than 500 home childcare providers were a part of the project, which impacted more than 2,300 children in North Dakota.
The program focused on increasing the amount fruits and vegetables children are served and incorporate sodium reduction techniques in food purchasing, meal preparation and service. Childcare providers were encouraged to lower sodium by making changes in how foods are produced, purchased, prepared and served. In addition, childcare providers receive engaging activities and parent education materials, as well.
A goal of the program was to help kids develop healthy habits early in life that will bring lifelong health benefits. About 90 percent of children ages 4 and older and adults eat too much sodium, and preferences for salty-tasting foods are shaped early in life. A high sodium diet is linked to high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Survey results from home childcare providers in the Bismarck, Mandan and Burleigh County show the program was a huge success. 87.5% of the respondents found the materials provided useful with 97.1% reported taking action toward reducing sodium in the children’s’ meals at their child care home. The education and training impacted food purchasing practices with a majority of the respondents reported usually or always shopping for low sodium vegetables (80%) and/or soup (71.4%). The most significant change from baseline in cooking practices was draining canned foods before use (97.2% Always/Usually. Baseline 54.1% Always/Usually)
The collaboration between Heartland Nutrition and the American Heart Association is one project funded by the CDC’s ANCHOR project. ANCHOR stands for Accelerating National Community Health Outcomes through Reinforcing Partnerships and the goal of the program is to build and strengthen health promotion efforts at the community level. This work is part of CDC’s Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) National Organization’s program through the Division of Community Health.
For more information on healthier meal planning for kids and ways to lower sodium visit www.heart.org/healthierkids.