Promoting healthy food choices in early childhood : an ecological approach

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Manning, Ashley Elizabeth
Children's Health
Diet-Related Chronic Diseases
EcoHealth Approach
Food Literacy
Health Promotion
Obesity Prevention
Objective: Assess the effectiveness of an ecological approach to promote healthy food choices in early childhood education through an educational workshop series. Design: Utilizing play-based learning, the workshops emphasized an ecological approach to health and food choice by letting children explore and experience healthy foods through various play-based and experiential activities. Data were collected and analyzed using grounded theory of semi-structured interviews with children, parents, and early childhood educators (ECEs), thematic analysis of children’s drawings, and quantitative food preference and food categorization surveys conducted with the children. Setting: The work was undertaken in three YMCA child care centres located in the Greater Toronto Area: Newcastle, Unionville, and inner-city Toronto. Participants: Participants comprised of 19 children, 5 parents, and 9 ECEs. Conclusions: The ecological approach to the promotion of healthy food choices in early childhood education was demonstrated to be an effective health promotion strategy for children aged 3 to 5.
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