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ARS Home » Plains Area » Houston, Texas » Children's Nutrition Research Center » Research » Research Project #444330

Research Project: Preventing the Development of Childhood Obesity

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Project Number: 3092-10700-068-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Mar 4, 2024
End Date: Mar 3, 2025

An estimated 16% of US children are overweight and 17% are obese, and the prevalence continues to rise. Most obesity prevention interventions have been ineffective and additional research is needed. Researchers will conduct studies on: 1) characterize the food & activity environments in which teens in rural areas live, work, and play and their perceptions regarding obesity, challenges to eating healthfully and being physically active (PA), and ways in which technology might be useful in helping them engage in healthy behaviors; 2) in low-income Hispanic families with children, examine the following parent feeding and child eating behaviors based on data from an existing data set: the direction of effects between parent feeding styles and child eating behaviors; how parent feeding styles and child eating behaviors at baseline predict individual growth curve trajectories for child BMI across 3 time points; and how child eating behaviors interact with parent feeding styles in predicting child BMI over time; 3) assess the psychometrics of sub-scales of food and PA parenting and whether there is differential item functioning among a sample of ethnically and racially diverse fathers; 4) describe fathers' use of parenting practices that support healthful nutrition and PA for their children and how this varies by demographic factors, household responsibilities, and co-parenting alliance; 5) develop and assess the feasibility of child obesity prevention videos for mothers to better engage them during a father targeted obesity prevention program; 6) assess 3 aspects of infant temperament: a) surgency, negative affectivity, and affiliation/orienting by direct observation; b) infant eating behaviors as measured by several sucking parameters, for example maximal suck pressure, burst rate and reductions in pressure during bottle feeding, and c) infant adiposity by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, and characterize the associations between these traits; 7) the NHANES will be used to identify diet-related risk factors for obesity, and other health outcomes in children, adolescents, and adults specifically: identify eating patterns in children, adolescents and adults by gender and ethnicity; examine the association between eating patterns and obesity and related health risk factors; examine the impact of individual foods, nutrients, and food-specific patterns on obesity and health outcomes in children, adolescents, and adults; and identify the impact of eating patterns on dietary intake, nutrient adequacy, and diet quality; 8) examine the rural-urban differences in and associations between food security status, food availability, participation in federal nutrition assistance programs, dietary intake, and obesity among children across different age groups; 9) determine the relationship between children's physical activity, diet, sedentary behavior, and sleep, on summer weight gain in children and the impact of parenting on these behaviors; and 10) assess the feasibility and acceptability of a digital cooking intervention among low-income parents of 6-11 year-old children.

A multidimensional approach will be undertaken to address the obesity research conducted at the Children's Nutrition Research Center. A mixed methods research using a sequential explanatory design will be used to address the goals of understanding why rural adolescents have a higher prevalence of obesity than their urban counterparts. A secondary data analysis will be performed on data collected from a previous study to gain an insight on the direction of effects between parent feeding styles and child eating behaviors. A cross-sectional study of a racially/ethnically, income and educational diverse sample of fathers will be conducted to be able to better design food or physical activity parenting practice survey instruments for use amongst fathers. A cohort of infants from late preterm or full term births (>=36 weeks gestation) will be recruited and various observational studies will be conducted to monitor the infants' temperament and correlation amongst the observations. Researchers will also perform secondary analysis using the 2011-2014 NHANES to compare weight and health risk outcome measures and nutrient intake with eating patterns in children, adolescents, and adults; using the 4 years of data will ensure an adequate sample size for the analyses. NHANES data from child as well as adult datasets on food security status will be used for the analyses to assess child as well as household food security status. And to better understand summer weight gain in children, researchers will review demographics, sleep, screen media use, meal patterns, physical activity, childcare arrangements and medication usage during summer via a structured parent interview. Researchers will use the Healthy Cooking Index to create a tailored, digital cooking intervention with the goal of improving cooking practices among low-income parents and, in turn, increasing the diet quality of their children.