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SNACPlus: Online Program to Build Knowledge and Confidence to Improves Healthy Eating Environments in the Childcare Sector

The childcare industry is a growth market and > 1 million children spend on average 27 hours per week in care. Eating habits are formed at a young age, therefore provision of healthy eating options and appropriate food environment policies whilst at childcare, is an effective early intervention point to address the current concerns relatingto childhood obesity.

The research

The SNACPlus research group has developed an engaging and relevant online curriculum to provide childcare staffwith professional development and resources to teach healthy eating to two to five year old children and build a healthy food environment in their centre. Resourcesare accessible by parents/carers and are available on the SNACPlus website free of charge.

More than 800 centres and more than 1,900 childcare staff use the website nationally.  Use of the SNACPlus website improved knowledge, behaviour and attitudes towards building a healthy food environment and food literacy skills including food labelling reading and use of credible websites and health professionals to gain nutrition knowledge.  Staff reported SNACPlus positively influenced changes to food service, role modelling, staff behaviour and dietary improvements in their centres.

Partners

  • The Australian Health Promotion Foundation (Healthway) is an industry partner of SNACPlus

Researchers

Dr Ruth Wallace
Professor Amanda Devine
Dr Leesa Costello
Mrs Ros Sambell
Mrs Margaret Miller
Ms Karen Lombardi
Ms Samantha Baker

Student Projects

Fostering positive body image among young children: Development and evaluation of an online professional development resource for early childhood educators.  Karen Lombardi (PhD Candidate)

ECU Cadetship ‘OSH on SNAC’ – an ECU undergraduate student project.  The main focus of this project is to repurpose the Heart Foundation Eat Smart, Play Smart nutrition and physical activity resources; prepare a grant application (to fund an ECU industry collaboration project in 2017) and prepare a social marketing plan for the launch of Out of School Hour care on the SNAC website.

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