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SHP and NORC investigators win first place in Health Sciences division at OUR Spring Expo

May 3, 2017

Magdalene Blevins
Elizabeth Kroeger, MS, RDN

The 2017 Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) Spring Expo awarded first place in the Health Sciences Poster Presentation to the study titled “Is There Power in Policy? Investigating the Potential Impact of Diet Quality in Child Daycare Centers,” by Magdalene Blevins (pictured, top left), a student in the School of Health Professions (SHP) Honors Program, majoring in Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences (BMD). Blevins was mentored by co-authors Elizabeth Kroeger, MS, RDN (pictured, bottom left), a PhD student in UAB’s Department of Nutrition Sciences, and Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC) member Brenda Bertrand, PhD, RDN, professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences. NORC member José Fernández, PhD, FTOS, professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, also mentors Blevins.

In the study, the authors showed that children ages 3 to 5 years enrolled in child daycare centers participating in the USDA-sponsored Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) had improved overall diet quality and consumed more iron, calcium, and fiber compared with children in child daycare centers not participating in the policy-oriented program. These findings are important because about 55 percent of US preschoolers attend child daycare centers where they receive up to 66 percent of their daily nutrient intake.

Although diet quality seems to be improved in nutrition policy-implemented centers, typical child daycare center lunches did not meet a third of the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) of nutrients for children in that age group, indicating poor diet quality. The investigators concluded that future studies are needed to improve nutrient intake, to better inform nutrition recommendations, and to direct policy changes to provide improved diet quality among children in the child daycare setting.