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Research Project: Preventing the Development of Childhood Obesity

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Personal and environmental factors influencing dietary behaviors of families in underserved communities

item CALLENDER, CHISHINGA - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item VELAZQUEZ, DENISSE - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item DAVE, JAYNA - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item OLVERA, NORMA - University Of Houston
item CHEN, TZU - University Of Houston
item ALFORD, SHANA - Common Threads
item Thompson, Deborah - Debbe

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/10/2021
Publication Date: 4/7/2021
Citation: Callender, C., Velazquez, D., Dave, J., Olvera, N., Chen, T.A., Alford, S., Thompson, D.J. 2021. Personal and environmental factors influencing dietary behaviors of families in underserved communities [abstract]. 14th Health Disparities Conference Xavier University of Louisiana (Virtual). April 7-8, 2021. Poster Presentation.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Healthy eating behaviors are encouraged for a healthy lifestyle, but children's diet quality is below the recommended guidelines. Diet-related disparities exist, with children from low-income, minority families at greatest risk. These disparities increase obesity and disease risk. The Social Ecological Model posits personal and environmental factors influence behavior. Therefore, we investigated parent and child perspectives of factors that influence dietary choices. Parents/caregivers and 8-13 year olds (n=18) living in underserved Houston-area communities were recruited for a mixed methods study (online surveys, telephone interviews, photographs). Mobile phones were used to take photographs of factors making it easy or hard to eat healthy; photographs were discussed during interviews. Descriptive statistics were calculated for the surveys. Interviews were digitally recorded, professionally transcribed, and double-coded using hybrid thematic analysis. Parents/caregivers were female, 40-49 years old (61%), and minority (56% Black/African American, 44% Hispanic). Children were female (56%), Black/African American (56%), and received free/reduced price lunch at school (95%). Mothers were well-educated (33%-some college, 22%-college degree, 11%-post graduate degree) with an annual household income of $21,000-$41,000 (44%). Interview findings revealed that personal factors, including culture, beliefs, knowledge, skills, and time, influence mothers' choices for the home food environment. Children noted taste, preferences, and beliefs as personal factors influencing their dietary behaviors. Mothers exerted a strong influence on their children's dietary behaviors. Mothers and children identified availability, cost, and temptation as key environmental influences; mothers also shared that convenience and distance influenced food choices. Understanding the perspectives and characteristics of families can provide direction on equitable strategies to improve healthful food resources for families living in underserved communities.