Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center
2013 Annual Report
1)many mothers spent considerable time encouraging eating—often in spite of the child's insistence that he or she was finished,.
2) mothers talked little about food characteristics,.
3)they rarely referred to children's feelings of hunger and fullness, and.
4)they spent more time focusing on table manners rather than teaching eating skills. Most of the mothers in this study did not engage in feeding practices that are consistent with current pediatric feeding recommendations. These results are important because they can be used to inform the development of feeding interventions in low-income families that are at the greatest risk for developing childhood obesity. 4. Adapting an adult dietary self-report tool to children. It is not clear whether the National Cancer Institute's Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour Dietary Recall (ASA24) that was simplified to meet the needs of children still provides accurate estimates of nutrient intake. Researchers at the Children's Nutrition Research Center in Houston, Texas, adapted the ASA24 to be child-friendly by removing: (1) foods not likely to be consumed by children based on previous analyses of national dietary data and (2) food detail questions (probes) to which children are unlikely to know the answers. No differences were found between the ASA24 and the simulated child-friendly recall, except for total sugar and vitamin C. This research demonstrated that it is feasible to reduce child response burden without significantly affecting the nutrient results. 5. Studying the impact of breakfast on cardiometabolic risk factors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies that more than one-third of US adults are obese. Researchers at the Children's Nutrition Research Center in Houston, Texas, conducted secondary data analyses that examined the relationship of skipping breakfast and type of breakfast consumed with cardiometabolic risk factors in young adults. Data from the 1999–2000 NHANES showed that 37.2% and 25.9% of US young adults aged 19–29 years and 30–39 years, respectively, skipped breakfast. In this sample of US young adults, eating a breakfast that included a ready-to-eat-cereal was associated with a lower prevalence of overweight/obesity, abdominal obesity, and several other cardiometabolic risk factors in contrast to the potential adverse metabolic effects that were found from skipping breakfast. Health professionals should encourage regular consumption of a nutritious breakfast (e.g., one that includes a ready-to-eat-cereal) in the young adult population, and interventions to increase the prevalence of breakfast consumption in the young adult population are warranted. 6. Scales for a Model of Goal-Directed Vegetable Parenting Practices (MGDVPP). Vegetable intake has been related to lower risk of chronic illnesses in the adult years. The habit of vegetable intake should be established early in life, but many parents of preschoolers report not being able to get their child to eat vegetables. The Model of Goal-Directed Behavior (MGDB) adds emotional and motivational variables to existing highly predictive models to understand why people do (or do not do) targeted behaviors. The Model of Goal-Directed Vegetable Parenting Practices provides possible determinants and may help explain why parents use effective or ineffective vegetable parenting practices. Researchers at the Children's Nutrition Research Center in Houston, Texas, developed new scales to measure constructs in MGDVPP which include 164 items extracted from questionnaire data. These scales are now available for use by researchers who are interested in understanding or encouraging parents' use of effective and ineffective vegetable parenting practices. 7. Diet quality inversely associated with cardiovascular risk factors. Use of diet quality indexes has become widespread, since these indexes allow for evaluation of the total diet in relationship to select nutrient intake, compliance with dietary recommendations, and chronic disease risk. Researchers at the Children's Nutrition Research Center in Houston, Texas, conducted a study and confirmed that overall diet quality was inversely related to cardiovascular risk factors in adults, emphasizing the importance of compliance with dietary recommendations and chronic disease risk. Results showed that diet quality as assessed by a specific diet-quality index called the Healthy Eating Index, varied according to sociodemographic factors such as age, gender, and race-ethnicity, as well as lifestyle factors such as exercise, smoking, and alcohol use. The percentage of adults who reported smoking, drinking alcohol, and participating in sedentary-to-light physical activity decreased with increased diet quality. Our overall results suggest that Healthy Eating Index-2005 is inversely associated with several cardiovascular risk factors in the US population. However, the overall effectiveness of these guidelines in disease prevention needs to be investigated further in prospective studies and among different sub-populations. 8. The effects of maternal eating patterns on maternal feeding and child eating. Recent research has demonstrated the importance of maternal feeding practices and children's eating behavior in the development of childhood obesity. Children's Nutrition Research Center scientists in Houston, Texas, conducted a study to examine the relations between maternal and child eating patterns, and to examine the degree to which these relationships were mediated through maternal feeding practices. We found that picky eating and the desire to eat in children were related to emotional eating in mothers. By better understanding the complex relationships between maternal eating patterns, feeding practices, and child eating patterns, we can better know how to educate and create positive feeding/eating environments that may potentially reduce rates of overweight and obesity among children. 9. Categorizing ways that parents influence their child's TV watching. Behavioral researchers focusing on obesity prevention in children question whether the same scale of how parents influence their children's TV use is appropriate for parents of children of different ages. Researchers at the Children’s Nutrition Research Center in Houston, Texas, combined data from three existing studies that included 358 children between the ages of 3 and 12 years of age. Their analyses revealed that items worked differently across the children's age groups, more than across parental education or language groups. We now know that researchers will need to modify the scales to minimize differences in measurement across children of different ages. 10. Correlations between mother-child dyad intakes of foods. Family dietary practices have been shown to be an important determinant of the quality of children's diets, with parents serving as gatekeepers that can serve as role models for their children's health-related behaviors, including diet. The objective of this study conducted by researchers at the Children's Nutrition Research Center in Houston, Texas, was to expand the current literature to include an examination of the resemblance in intakes of foods, within the context of a meal, among mother-child groups from families of limited incomes. Mothers and children who were served larger amounts of total food/beverages consumed more. Our findings support other studies on the resemblance in dietary intakes among mother-child groups and that larger portion sizes of foods served was related to higher amounts of those foods consumed. It is important that food and nutrition professionals provide guidance that encourages their intake of major food groups, so the mothers can model healthier food consumption behaviors for their children. 11. Conference report on energy balance related parenting practices. Although parents are believed to provide strong influence on children's behavior, severe problems have been identified in measures of obesity-related (i.e., diet, physical activity, and screen media) parenting practices. These problems have inhibited the quality of the research in this area, and to change this situation, researchers at the Children's Nutrition Research Center in Houston, Texas, held a conference and from this were able to develop a special report. The conference presentations reviewed the relevant literature and working group discussions and identified research needed to bring clarity and precision to measures of these constructs. The publications from the presentations and working group discussions will appear as a special issue of Childhood Obesity. Several groups who attended the conference are now developing new measures of obesity-related parenting practices, which offers a promise of improving research in this area. 12. Food consumption at dinner by preschool children. A dinner meal is consumed by approximately 95% of preschool children, yet few studies have characterized the dinner meal within a broader environmental context. Data from this study, conducted by the Children's Nutrition Research Center researchers in Houston, Texas, showed that plate waste and variation in amounts served and consumed was substantial. A very large percentage of the mothers did not consume dinner with their child. The results confirm that serving larger amounts of food resulted in increased intake at the dinner meal among preschool children. A lack of consistent guidelines on the amounts preschool children should consume at dinner prevents one from drawing firm conclusions about the appropriateness of amounts and types of foods served during this specific meal. Hopefully, future studies will generate data that will provide the foundation regarding the amount of food to be offered by parents at dinner meals based on current consumption patterns.
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