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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: UNDERSTANDING ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS AND BEHAVIORAL CHANGES FOR CHILDHOOD OBESITY PREVENTION

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Objective 1: Determine environmental factors and eating pattern typologies associated with obesity and related diseases in children, adolescents, and young adults using extant datasets. Sub-objective 1.A. Examine the impact of dietary calcium intake and dairy product consumption on weight status in a multi-ethnic, low-income population. Sub-objective 1.B. Determine the impact of breakfast and ready-to-eat cereal (RTEC) on nutrient intake and weight status. Sub-objective 1.C. Determine the impact of snack consumption on nutrient intake and weight status. Sub-objective 1.D. Identify psychosocial factors influencing children’s eating patterns and weight status. Sub-objective 1.E. Evaluate mealtime intake of children as a function of portion size, and evaluate caregiver characteristics related to children's portion sizes.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
These objectives will be accomplished through secondary data analyses on currently existing datasets. Children's Nutrition Research Center researchers will conduct various analyses in a sequential timeline, resulting in scientific publications and presentations. Scientists will use a multitude of statistical programs (e.g., SAS, SPSS, SUDAAN) to conduct the secondary data analyses. A variety of analytical methods will be used depending on the specific objective (e.g., descriptive statistics; regression analyses; sample-weighted least square means; generalized linear models; and mixed effects models), and adjustments to the analytical methods will be made as appropriate for family support, parental perceptions and concerns about child weight, parental BMI, and child temperament. Additionally we plan to use population-averaged models using generalized estimating equations (GEE) to account for possible clustering effects.


3.Progress Report:

My research accomplishments for the year included 18 peer reviewed publications. Several of the published studies conducted secondary analyses using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. These studies showed that consumption of specific foods or beverages (i.e., mangoes, 100% orange juice, and fruit juice) improved nutrient intake and diet quality, and they were not adversely related to health risk markers. Another study showed positive correlations between mother-child pairings (dyads) intake of foods consumed at the dinner meal. Data showed the importance of providing mothers the guidance needed to encourage them to consume nutrient-dense foods at the dinner meal so they can model healthier food consumption behaviors for their children. Another study examined the relationship of skipping breakfast and the type of breakfast consumed with cardiometabolic risk factors in young adults. Eating breakfast was associated with a lower prevalence of overweight, abdominal obesity, and several other cardiometabolic risk factors. Thus, health professionals should encourage regular consumption of breakfast in the young adult population. Another study confirmed that overall diet quality was inversely related to cardiovascular risk factors in adults, emphasizing the importance of compliance with dietary recommendations in order to decrease chronic disease risk.


4.Accomplishments
1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.


Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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