Date Approved

4-20-2012

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Health Sciences

Committee Member

Judi Brooks, PhD, RD, Chair

Committee Member

Alice Jo Rainville, PhD, RD, CHE, SNS

Abstract

Background: Obesity in the United States has become a major health issue, affecting not only adults, but children as well. The increase among preschool children is of major concern, with 2 out of 10 children in 2008 being overweight or obese. It is important to start obesity prevention at a young age in order to avoid the development of obesity and its detrimental health conditions. Children begin to develop eating habits at a young age, and the home eating environment may have an influence on the development of eating habits.
Purpose:
To assess the influence of both a positive and negative home eating environment on preschoolers’ intake of fruits and vegetables and snack foods.
Setting: A cooperative preschool in metropolitan Seattle, WA.
Subjects: Families with children aged 12 months to 5 years (n= 163) were contacted and asked to participate. One hundred and forty-two surveys were distributed and 75 responses were obtained.
Research Design: Quantitative study.
Data Collection and Analysis: A survey with questions based on a Likert scale was designed specifically for this study. A score for fruit and vegetable intake (FV), snack foods intake (SF), positive home environment (HE), and negative home environment was calculated for each individual. Pearson’s product-moment correlations, individual samples t-test analyses, ANOVA, and frequencies of behaviors were calculated.
Findings: A Pearson product-moment correlation revealed significant and non-significant correlations. There was a negative correlation, but not significant, between HE score and FV intake [r = -.199, n =69, p = .102], where the more negative HE factors that were present in the household, the fewer FV were consumed. There was a positive correlation, but not significant, v between HE score and SF intake [r = .191, n =70, p = .113]. There was a statistically significant correlation (p≤.01) between FV availability and FV intake [r = .323, n =75, p = .005]. There was a statistically significant correlation (p≤.05) between the SF availability and SF intake [r = .246, n =73, p = .036]. There was a statistically significant correlation (p≤.01) between SF intake and FV intake [r=.333, n=73, p=.004]. An independent-samples t-test revealed a significant difference (p≤.01) in scores of FV availability for positive HE (M=0.54±0.08) versus negative HE (M=0.45±0.09); t(69)=3.99, p≤.00. These results suggest that there is more FV availability in positive HE.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that the home eating environment does have an influence on the dietary intake of FV and SF of preschoolers, where a positive HE correlates with higher availability of FV and increased intake by preschoolers, and a negative HE correlates with a higher availability of SF and increased intake of these foods by preschoolers.

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