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Food and activity in out of school hours care in Victoria

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Abstract Objective: 

To describe characteristics of the Victorian out of school hours care (OSHC) sector to assess its potential role in promoting healthy lifestyles to children and their families. Design: 

Written questionnaires were sent to 1100 Victorian OSHC programs to collect information about the services, foods and activities offered to children, the training and resources utilised by staff and the type of information sent home to parents/guardians. Subjects: 

A total of 426 Victorian OSHC coordinators completed questionnaires in the present descriptive study (39% response rate). Setting: 

Out of school hours care provides care for 5–12 years olds before school, after school and/or during school holidays. Results: 

Over 80% of coordinators reported offering fruit, breads, cereals, and milk and dairy products. One-third offer vegetables as part of meals or snacks. One-third reported offering cakes, biscuits and/or slices, and chips and/or pastries. About 17% reported offering water, whereas 24% reported offering cordial/soft drinks and fruit juice. Cooking was offered as an after-school activity by about half of those surveyed. Active games were common (62%) as were indoor active games and sports (36%). Sedentary activities were also commonplace (37–51%). Only about 30% of OSHC coordinators had participated in nutrition and/or physical activity training in the previous two years. Few OSHC programs sent home health information to parents/guardians. Conclusion and application: 

Opportunities exist to help Victorian OSHC programs with nutrition and physical activity information, resources and training. Although the findings of the present study are specific to Victoria, they highlight the potential role of the growing OSHC sector to help improve the health of Australian children.
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Keywords: child care; child nutrition; health promotion; physical activity; population; school-age children

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: National Heart Foundation of Australia, West Melbourne and 2: Adelaide Produce Markets Limited, Pooraka, South Australia, Australia 3: School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, and

Publication date: March 1, 2006

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