Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of



Mary B. Williams

Date of this Version



Curr Dev Nutr 2020;4:nzz105.


Copyright © The Author(s) 2019.


Background: Establishing healthy eating habits early affects lifelong dietary intake, which has implications for many health outcomes. With children spending time in early care and education (ECE) programs, teachers establish the daytime meal environment through their feeding practices.

Objective: We aimed to determine the effect of a teacher-focused intervention to increase responsive feeding practices in 2 interventions, 1 focused exclusively on the teacher’s feeding practices and the other focused on both the teacher’s feeding practices and a nutrition classroom curriculum, in ECE teachers in a Native American (NA) community in Oklahoma.

Methods: Nine tribally affiliated ECE programs were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 interventions: 1) a 1.5-h teacher-focused responsive feeding practice training (TEACHER; n = 4) and 2) TEACHER plus an additional 3-h training to implement a 15-wk classroom nutrition curriculum (TEACHER + CLASS; n = 5). Feeding practice observations were conducted during lunch at 1 table in 1 classroom for 2- to 5-y-olds at each program before and 1 mo after the intervention. The Mealtime Observation in Child Care (MOCC) organizes teacher behaviors into 8 subsections. Descriptive statistics and the Shapiro–Wilk test for normality were calculated. Paired t tests were calculated to determine change in each group.

Results: Amean± SD of 5.2 ± 2.0 (total n = 47) children and 1.7 ± 0.5 (total n = 14) teachers/center were observed at baseline, and 5.6 ± 1.7 (total n = 50) children and 1.7 ± 0.7 teachers (total n = 14) were observed/center postintervention. Total MOCC scores (max possible = 10) improved for TEACHER (6.1 ± 0.9 compared with 7.5 ± 0.3, t = 4.12, P = 0.026) but not for TEACHER + CLASS (6.5 ± 0.8 compared with 6.4 ± 1.0, t =−0.11, P = 0.915). No other changes were observed.

Conclusions: Teacher intervention–only programs demonstrated improvements in responsive feeding practices, whereas the programs receiving teacher and classroom training did not. Greater burden likely decreased capacity to make changes in multiple domains. We demonstrated the ability to implement interventions in NA ECE. Further research with larger communities is necessary. This trial was registered at as NCT03251950.