Self-reported and observed feeding practices of Rhode Island Head Start teachers: Knowing what not to do

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Purpose Through their feeding practices, adult caregivers play an important role in shaping children's eating behaviors. However, the feeding practices of child care teachers have received little attention. The purpose of this study was to compare child care teachers' self-reported feeding practices and observed feeding practices during a preschool meal. Methods Rhode Island Head Start teachers (n = 85) were observed during breakfast and lunch where feeding practices were coded using a tool adapted from the Environmental Policy Assessment and Observation (EPAO) tool. Teachers completed a questionnaire adapted from the EPAO Self-Report to capture self-reported feeding practices. Agreement between reported and observed was compared by percent agreement. Results Teachers were predominantly White (89%) and female (98%). There was a higher level of agreement among self-reported and observed controlling feeding practices (78.8–97.6% agreement) compared to healthful feeding practices (11.8–20.0% agreement). Conclusions Although self-report measures are typically used to capture feeding practices, there are inconsistencies between self-report and observation measures. The inconsistencies found among healthful self-reported and observed feeding practices have implications for future research protocols, measurement refinement, and training of child care teachers.

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