Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Nutrition and Hospitality Management

First Advisor

Kathy Knight

Relational Format



Childhood obesity rates are increasing in the United States and the condition is more prevalent in the Southeast than in other areas of the country. Children who are obese or overweight during childhood have a much higher chance of remaining overweight throughout their lives, and the best way to combat child obesity is through influencing young children’s nutrition patterns. Many children spend a significant amount of time in childcare outside of their home, which may be responsible for providing adequate nutrition for at least two meals per day. This study evaluated the menus of Mississippi childcare centers participating in the Children and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Cycle menus for each center were analyzed for nutritional quality using NutriKids software. Mean daily nutrient content was calculated from one business week of menus from each center, and compared to data from a 1995 study by Oakley, Bomba, Knight, and Byrd. T-tests were used to determine the significance of the differences in the mean amounts of nutrients provided between menus from the 1995 study and the current menus. A checklist was also distributed to examine adherence to CACFP best practices and guidelines. The results showed that although the menus are still high in carbohydrates and calories from sugar, current menus were significantly lower in total and unsaturated fat, and significantly higher in iron, calcium, Vitamin C, and fiber than menus from the 1995 study. Changes in CACFP guidelines during the past twenty years may have helped centers reduce the amount of fat and increased the amount of key nutrients in menus compared to the 1995 study. While it is important to continue exploring nutritional content of childcare menus, the new CACFP guidelines may be making a positive impact.



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