Healthy Food Environments

People typically obtain the majority of their meals from either retail food outlets, where they purchase goods to cook and consume at home, or food service outlets, where they dine out. Food retail venues include grocery stores, corner stores, and farmers’ markets. Foodservice venues include restaurants (including quick-serve), childcare facilities, schools, hospitals, and worksite cafeterias.

People can make healthier eating choices when nutritious food is readily available and inexpensive in grocery stores and restaurants. When healthy foods are scarce, people may opt for foods high in calories but low in nutritional value. As a result, public health efforts should build and support healthy food environments.

A variety of measures can help to create healthy food environments. These are some of them:

Nutritional guidelines are implemented in childcare institutions, schools, hospitals, and workplaces.
Providing financial incentives for supermarkets or farmers’ markets to open in underdeveloped regions.
On restaurant and fast food menus, nutrition information and calorie content should be included.

Early Childhood Education and Care Programs Can:

Use optimal practices to enhance the intake of nutritious foods and drinks and breastfeeding, as suggested by the Dietary Guidelines for Americansexternal symbol and nutrition guidelines for early care and education settings. Childcare facilities may also examine their food surroundings and implement healthy eating action plans and regulations.

The following are some useful resources:

3rd edition of Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards (CFOC). This resource includes comprehensive, evidence-based national standards for obesity prevention that include nutrition, baby feeding, physical activity, and screen usage in this environment.
The external symbol for “Healthy Kids, Healthy Future.” A website offering practical tools and resources to assist early care and education (ECE) professionals in implementing best practices in obesity prevention in the following areas:

  • Enhancing food options
  • Providing nutritious drinks
  • Physical exercise should be increased.
  • Reducing time spent in front of the screen
  • Breastfeeding support.

Healthy Kids, Healthy Future’s Checklist Quizexternal symbol lets providers assess how well they are presently meeting best practices and provides advice on establishing an action plan to improve. The site includes tools for parents and information on curriculum development and meal preparation. ECE providers that report fulfilling all best practices are recognized with a national map external emblem. On the site, there is also a resource area for trainers.

NAPSACCexternal icon is the way to go. The Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care provides information and tools on this website (NAPSACC). There are resources for children ranging in age from newborn to five years old, emphasizing breastfeeding and baby nutrition, screen usage, and outdoor play. Go NAPSACC may also customize tools and suggestions for various childcare settings, such as family childcare homes. Go NAPSACC self-assessments are accessible for downloading external icons.

Model Health Policies for Child Care (5th edition).

External symbol The American Academy of Pediatrics established this resource to help organizations adopt policies that promote the health and safety of young children in early care and after-school programs. Section 4 contains sample regulations about nutrition, food management, and feeding that childcare facilities can utilize for their purposes.