Foods and beverages provided in out of school hours care services: an observational study

Publication Name

BMC Public Health


Introduction: Out of school hours care (OSHC) is a fast-growing childcare setting in Australia, however the types of foods and beverages offered are relatively unknown. This study describes the food and beverages offered and investigates sector-level and setting-level factors which may impact OSHC in meeting the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG). Methods: This cross-sectional, observational study was conducted in 89 OSHC services (between 2018 and 2019). Food and beverages offered, kitchen facilities and menus were captured via direct observation. Foods were categorised into five food groups or discretionary foods, based on the ADG, and frequencies determined. Short interviews with OSHC directors ascertained healthy eating policies, staff training, food quality assessment methods and food budgets. Fisher’s exact test explored the influence of sector-level and setting-level factors on food provision behaviours. Results: Discretionary foods (1.5 ± 0.68) were offered more frequently than vegetables (0.82 ± 0.80) (p <.001), dairy (0.97 ± 0.81) (p =.013) and lean meats (0.22 ± 0.54) (p <.001). OSHC associated with long day care and reported using valid food quality assessment methods offered more lean meats (p=.002, and p=.004). Larger organisations offered more vegetables (p =.015) and discretionary foods (p=.007). Menus with clearly worded instructions to provide fruits and vegetables daily offered more fruit (p=.009), vegetables (p <.001) and whole grains (p=.003). No other sector or setting-level factors were associated with services aligning with the ADG. Conclusion: Future interventions could benefit from trialling menu planning training and tools to assist OSHC services in NSW meet the ADG requirements.

Open Access Status

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Article Number


Funding Sponsor

NSW Ministry of Health



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