- Australia’s food environments, including ECEC (Early Childhood Education and Care) settings, can have a big influence on the foods children eat.
- The Australian Food Environment Dashboard brings together the most up to date evidence on key food environment indicators for Australian food settings.
- NCOIS research with ECEC services has informed a recent update of the Dashboard.
- The data tells us that ECEC services are doing well at having recommended healthy foods available, and could improve in areas such as healthy food policies and education around nutrition.
What is Australia’s Food Environment Dashboard?
Australia’s Food Environment Dashboard summarises the best-available research data to provide an overall picture of the healthiness of Australia’s food environments, including settings such as ECEC services and schools.
Based on NCOIS research, the dashboard summarises results for key food indicators using a traffic light score. ‘Green’ shows that environments are likely to promote health, ‘amber’ shows further improvements are needed to promote health and ‘red’ suggest are unhealthy.
This information can be used to inform:
- priorities for implementation support
- practice guideline updates
- public health messages and campaigns by health advocacy groups and agencies.
Why is this important?
We know that food environments, such as Schools and ECEC services, can have a big influence on the foods children eat.
It is crucial to make up-to-date research data about key food environment indicators accessible, to better inform policy and practice support.
The dashboard presents critical data in an easy-to-digest way to make it accessible for decision makers and other stakeholders looking to improve healthy eating policies and practices.
How did we do this research?
We asked ECEC services across Australia about key food environment indicators between 2018 and 2022. We spoke to both family day care (home-based) providers and centre-based services.
This research includes an extensive summary of the most up to date research, distilling it to provide key indicators and exploring Australian ECECs level of implementation.
What we found
This work tells us that Australian Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services are doing well at having recommended healthy foods available, and could improve around having a healthy food policy and providing education about nutrition.
Yoong SL, Lum M, Wolfenden L, Jackson J, Barnes C, Hall AE, McCrabb S, Pearson N, Lane C, Jones JZ, Dinour L, McDonnell T, Booth D, Grady A. Healthy eating interventions delivered in early childhood education and care settings for improving the diet of children aged six months to six years. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2023, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD013862. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013862.pub2.
Lum M, Grady A, Wolfenden L, Lecathelinais C, Yoong SL. Implementation of healthy eating and physical activity practices in Australian early childhood education and care services: A cross-sectional study. Med. Rep., 2023; 102455. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2023.102455
Lum M, Grady A, Falkiner M, Jones J, Finch M, Green S, Herrmann V, Hall A, Yoong SL. Assessing the implementation of healthy eating and physical activity policies and practices in the family day care setting: A cross-sectional study. Health Promotion Journal of Australia. 2021; 32(S2): 116-25. https://doi.org/10.1002/hpja.420
Lum, M.; Wolfenden, L.; Jones, J.; Grady, A.; Christian, H.; Reilly, K.; Yoong, S.L. Interventions to Improve Child Physical Activity in the Early Childhood Education and Care Setting: An Umbrella Review. J. Environ. Res. Public Health2022, 19, 1963. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19041963