This study explores the experiences of kindergarten staff with a multi-component kindergarten-based intervention, the aims of which were to reduce levels of food neophobia and to promote healthy diets in toddlers (aged 2–3 years). A qualitative design was chosen for the study, and the data are based on three focus group interviews. Altogether, 15 kindergarten staff were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide. The focus group interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Five main themes emerged from the interviews: i) Successful development of sensory knowledge, ii) Food neophobia, iii) Implementing new routines, a challenge for some, iv) Lack of cooking skills, and v) Inspired to continue. A main finding was that all kindergarten staff perceived the sensory education sessions as successful and reported that both toddlers and staff expanded their food vocabulary and increased their attention to sensory impressions of food. However, the staff reported that some toddlers were less willing to taste new lunch dishes than to taste new foods in the sensory education sessions. The staff also noted that the guidelines for feeding practices resulted in unfamiliar situations at the lunch table. The staff agreed that cooking novel foods was time consuming and left less time for other tasks. Finally, all kindergarten staff expressed that they would like to continue with portions of the food intervention. Our main interpretation is that the intervention presented several challenges, especially regarding cooking and feeding practices. If kindergartens are to be a place to promote healthy eating habits in the early years, sufficient time and resources for cooking seem to be needed and food and feeding practices included in the curriculum of kindergartens and higher education for kindergarten teachers.
Appetite – Elsevier
Published: Aug 1, 2018
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