This study investigated the effect of attending day care centres on the nutritional status of 818 pre-school children under 5 years of age in comparison with home based children, taking into consideration their social class. A random sample of 10 high class (HCD) and low class day care centres (LCD) was selected, in addition to a random sample of houses in high class (HCR) and low class residential areas (LCR) in Beirut. Anthropometric measurements and dietary intake data were collected. Attending day care centres, regardless of social class, showed that children in HCD and LCD had significantly greater height for age than home based children. When stratified by social class, a higher proportion of LCR had severe and mild stunting in comparison with their LCD counterparts. For high class children, being home based did not result in adverse effects on growth to the same extent as children from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Dietary intake data showed deficiencies in most nutrients in both day care and home based children reflecting the same differences observed in the anthropometric data, i.e. a better consumption of nutrients by children in day care centres, particularly in LCD vs. LCR. Findings from this study show that day care service results in a better nutritional status for children and its effects are more pronounced in those from lower socioeconomic groups.
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Document Type: Research Article
Department of Food Technology and Nutrition, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
Publication date: 1996-04-01