Page Banner

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

2010 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

In FY2010 researchers at the Children's Nutrition Research Center, Houston, TX, conducted continuous data analyses using data from extant datasets. Sophisticated statistical approaches were used to address hypotheses specific to parental feeding styles/practices as related to young children's food intake and body weight. Other areas included adult modeling of dairy foods and its impact on child consumption; characterization of portion sizes served and consumed by preschool children in Head Start; and caregivers attitudes toward portion sizes. In the past year, five scientific papers were published. The ADODR monitors activities for the project by routine site visits, and review of major purchases of supplies/equipment, use of SCA funds for foreign travel, and submission of grant applications by investigators funded through the SCA.


4.Accomplishments
1. Associations among parental feeding styles and children's food intake in limited income families. Although general parenting styles and restrictive parental feeding practices have been associated with children's weight status, few studies have examined the association between feeding styles and outcomes such as children's food intake in multi-ethnic, limited income families. Researchers at the Children's Nutrition Research Center, Houston, Texas, evaluated the association of parental feeding styles and young children's evening food intake in a multiethnic sample of families in Head Start and found that intakes of dairy foods, fruit, juice and vegetables were lowest among children of indulgent or uninvolved parents. These findings suggest that permissive parents feeding styles like indulgent or uninvolved do not promote the intake of nutrient-rich foods fruit, 100% fruit juice, vegetables and dairy foods from 3 PM until bedtime. As a result, interventions may need to be addressed to target parental feeding styles that have the potential to impact children's intake.

2. Parenting practices are associated with fruit and vegetable consumption in preschoolers. Parents may influence children's fruit and vegetable consumption in many ways, but research has focused primarily on counterproductive parenting practices, such as restriction and pressure to eat. To assess the association of diverse parenting practices to promote fruits and vegetables and their consumption among pre-school children, researchers at the Children's Nutrition Research Center, Houston, Texas, performed an analysis on data from 755 Head Start pre-school children and their parents collected in 2004–2005. Researchers found that parents use a variety of parenting practices, beyond pressuring to eat and restrictive practices, to promote fruit and vegetable intake in their young child. Evaluating the use of combinations of practices may provide a better understanding of parental influences on children's fruit and vegetable intake.

3. Caregivers' attitudes regarding portion sizes served to children at Head Start. Head Start caregivers are responsible for educating and feeding preschoolers enrolled in the program and studies are needed to look at the relationship of portion size served and the association with the intake of those foods in this group of children. To identify the caregivers' attitudes regarding portion sizes served to children at Head Start, researchers at the Children's Nutrition Research Center in Houston, Texas, conducted eight focus groups with Hispanic and African American Head Start caregivers to identify their attitudes regarding amounts and types of foods served to Head Start preschoolers. The caregivers identified child preference, exposure, and pickiness, child age and size, and hunger and the home environment as key influencers on the amounts and types of foods served to Head Start children. Identification of these influencers are important as extension agents should be aware of caregivers' attitudes regarding their influence on child food consumption and teach these caregivers appropriate behavior modeling and affirmation techniques.

4. Characterizing lunch meals served and consumed by preschool children in Head Start using digital photography. Preschool children consume most weekday lunch meals outside of the home, and yet little is known about what is served or consumed. To examine what is served and consumed as the lunch meal by preschool children at Head Start, researchers at the Children's Nutrition Research Center, Houston, Texas, collected three days of lunch intake on preschool children in 16 Head Start centers in Houston using digital photography. Our data showed that the amount of food waste was high; variation in the amounts served and consumed was substantial; and portion amounts served were associated with the amounts consumed. More studies are needed to understand what personal and behavioral factors influence variations in portions served and consumed by preschool children.


Last Modified: 7/24/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page