Child overweight and obesity is a prevalent health threat. Many children are in childcare programs that provide most of the foods they consume each day. However, it is unclear how effective the programs designed to provide a healthy diet are in meeting child nutrient needs while controlling energy intake to that needed. A study conducted by Roe and colleagues addressed this question and they report their results in the May 2023 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

Data for food weight, energy density, energy intake, activity, and child appetitive traits were derived from three crossover trials conducted in childcare settings that adhered to dietary guidelines. All meals and snacks were provided for 5 consecutive days and the amount of food consumed was determined by weight. Observations included 603 daily intakes for 128 preschool children, of which 15% were with overweight or obesity.

Menus with greater food weights led to more food intake, and those with higher energy density led to more energy being consumed. A greater energy intake as a proportion of requirements occurred with children with overweight or obesity. Vegetable intake was 39% of recommended amounts, with boys consuming less than girls. Lower satiety responsiveness or higher food responsiveness led to greater daily energy intake. These results led the authors to conclude that children consumed higher-energy-dense items and fewer vegetables when daily menus contained substantial portions of foods that met dietary recommendations. The authors stated this is a concern as it led to higher energy intakes than demands, especially in children with overweight or obesity.


Roe LS, Keller KL, Rolls BJ. Food properties and individual characteristics influence children’s intake across multiple days of weighed assessments in childcare programs. Journal of Nutrition, Volume 153, Issue 5, May 2023, Pages 1646-1655,

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