The healthy incentive for pre-schools project

Date: January, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-905767-69-4

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Foreward

HIP project cover

The Healthy Incentive for Pre-schools Project is an intervention project which took in place the midland counties of Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath, in the Republic of Ireland, with preparatory pilot work in Co. Wicklow. The project was supported by safefood in association with the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The role of nutrition in known to be vital for the healthy development of children and it has been found that the health related habits learned early in life track into adulthood. Because of this many experts have recommended that preventative health measures should focus on children in their early years. Many children worldwide spend much of their time in child-care and the Republic of Ireland has, in recent years, followed this model. While many children in full day childcare spend a significant proportion of their time out of the home environment, little is known of the food provided in this setting in the Republic of Ireland, and this information is necessary to inform early childhood education and health policy makers.

The objectives of the project were to devise and validate a scored nutrition evaluation form for use in the full day care pre-school setting. The project consisted of six stages: 1. Development, pilot and validation of the Scored Evaluation Form; 2. Baseline audit of all full day care pre-schools enrolled in the project in the Midlands using the Scored Evaluation Form; 3. Development of a tailored nutrition and healthy eating resource pack to accompany the scored nutrition evaluation form; 4. Delivery of training on use of the Scored Evaluation Form and resource pack to two groups: ‘minimal intervention’ (manager only training) and ‘intervention’ (manager and staff training); 5. Measurement of change in practice post intervention using the Scored Evaluation Form and 6. Investigation of an appropriate reward model to act as motivation and incentive to participate in the programme. Two additional phases were also completed: the development of a Food Serving Size Atlas and the investigation of the Voice of the Child in the full day care pre-school setting.

The project began in February 2008 with data collection commencing in June 2008 and finishing in April 2012.