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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

2012 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Objective 1: Develop and evaluate a model of childhood obesogenic environments based on parent-child dynamics affecting child eating behaviors and body weight status. Sub-objective 1.A. Examine a set of functional relationships involving food parenting practices (i.e., strategies parents use and problems they encounter with getting children to eat healthy), child eating behaviors, and weight status. Sub-objective 1.B. Examine the nature of the perceived effectiveness of food parenting practices (theoretically associated with feeding styles) by examining some psychosocial precursors of food parenting practices such as child temperament, and parent affect. Sub-objective 1.C. Examine the nature of parent/child dyads involving eating behaviors and weight status and how these are influenced by feeding styles, child temperament, and parent affect. Sub-objective 1.D. Identify specific family characteristics (i.e., emotional climate at family meals) that influence child eating behaviors and body weight status.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Data analyses will first be completed on multiple aspects of an existing data set of parent-report data and height and weight data (independently gathered by research staff members on parents and children) at Head Start centers across two states. This data set includes information on African-American, Hispanic, and White low-income families. Secondly, data is currently being gathered on African-American and Hispanic low-income Head Start families in Houston, TX, and will be analyzed to gain additional information on the aspects of the family environment that impacts and influences children's eating behaviors and weight status. Ultimately, a model of parent-child dynamics will be developed (through these series of analyses) that can best explain the impact of the low-income environment on the weight status of preschool children (which includes the eating environment).

3. Progress Report:
Our research milestones included an abstract/paper presentation this year, followed by a peer reviewed published manuscript at the end of next year. We were able to accomplish both milestones this year. Our research targeted the mother-child relationship, followed by analyses showing distinct profiles of parents using "grouping" analyses. A paper was presented at the 2012 Annual Conference of The International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity in Austin, TX (May 23 -26, 2012) showing profiles of parents (based on parenting stress indicators) and their relationship to feeding styles, parent affect, and child weight status. Using analyses, three groups of parents were identified – a distressed group, a non-distressed group, and a partially distressed group. The distressed group reported a poor relationship with their significant other and child and had a higher percent of authoritarian and uninvolved feeders. The non-distressed group reported a good relationship with their significant other and child and had a higher percent of indulgent (permissive) feeders. The partially distressed group reported a poor relationship with their significant other but a good relationship with the child and also had a higher percent of indulgent (permissive) feeders. By targeting specific stressors in family relationships and intervening on those stressors first, intervention researchers may have a better chance at changing maternal feeding patterns because mothers may be more receptive to feeding interventions. Our research plan also included an additional abstract and paper presentation showing the moderating effects of feeding styles on dietary consumption. A manuscript was submitted to the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior and is currently under its second review. The manuscript titled "Feeding style differences in food parenting practices associated with fruit and vegetable intake in children" addresses the moderating effects of feeding styles on the relationship between food parenting practices and child dietary intake. In addition to the moderating effects of feeding styles, this manuscript shows how the strategies used by parents to get their children to eat varied by feeding styles. Estimations of digital photos of parent and child dinner plates (USDA NRI observational grant) were completed recently. Preliminary analyses of the mother-child dietary relationship are complete and will be submitted as an abstract by Fall 2012. Results showed high correspondence between mother and child energy consumption but energy consumption varied across the three observations. It is likely that mothers who are stressed may use food as a comfort tool for themselves and inadvertently give their children similar amounts of these energy dense foods.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 06/24/2017
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