Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Houston, Texas » Children's Nutrition Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #256567

Title: Caregivers' attitudes regarding portion sizes served to children at Head Start

item GOODELL, SUZANNE - North Carolina State University
item GOH, EUGENIA - University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
item HUGHES, SHERYL - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item NICKLAS, THERESA - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)

Submitted to: Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/4/2010
Publication Date: 3/4/2010
Citation: Goodell, S.L., Goh, E.T., Hughes, S.O., Nicklas, T.A. 2010. Caregivers' attitudes regarding portion sizes served to children at Head Start. The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues. 5(1):1-8

Interpretive Summary: According to their own accounts, Head Start caregivers vary portion sizes served to children based on their perception of individual child preferences and pickiness, child size, child hunger, and the home environment. Applying the information presented, the researchers plan to establish how caregivers’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors impact portion sizes through additional studies. When discussing childhood obesity with caregivers of children from low-income families, county extension educators should be aware of the factors that impact caregivers’ feeding decisions. To be sensitive to the cultural and socio-economic needs of the community, country extension educators could tailor their nutrition educational approaches by applying these research findings.

Technical Abstract: Head Start caregivers are responsible for educating and feeding preschoolers enrolled in the Head Start program. Amongst pre-school aged children, portion size served is positively associated with intake of those foods. Researchers 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. Twenty-nine Hispanic and thirty –three African American caregivers participated in the study. Caregivers identified child preference, exposure, and pickiness, child age and size, and hunger, and the home environment as key influences on the amounts and types of foods served to Head Start children. 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.