Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nutrition and Food Science

Department

Nutrition and Food Sciences

First Advisor

Alison Tovar

Abstract

In order to prevent early childhood obesity, community-wide interventions are needed. However, few studies have assessed a community’s readiness to prevent childhood obesity among 0-5 year old children. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the level of readiness to prevent obesity among 0-5 year olds in Providence, RI.

Key informant interviews with local leaders of organizations that work with 0- 5 year old children in Providence (n=12) were completed using the community readiness model (CRM). The CRM’s level of readiness ranges from 1 (no awareness) to 9 (high level of community ownership). Furthermore, the CRM is comprised of dimensions: 1) community efforts, 2) community knowledge of the efforts, 3) leadership, 4) community climate, 5) community knowledge of the issues, and 6) resources available. Participants were interviewed for approximately 60 minutes about knowledge of health and wellness efforts in Providence for 0-5 year old children and completed a sociodemographic survey. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Descriptive statistics were reported for the sociodemographic survey, and mean and standard deviations from the CRM dimensions were run in SPSS.

Participants represented the following sectors: Department of Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Department of Education, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, child care, Parks and Recreation, and Healthy Community’s office. All key informant interviewees hold college degrees with 9-32 years of experience in the field. The overall community readiness to change score was 3.2, which corresponds to a vague awareness stage. Community knowledge of efforts and community climate both received the lowest scores (2.7 ± 0.12) while leadership (4.0 ± 0.05) and resources (3.5 ± 0.04) ranked highest.

In Providence, efforts to increase the community’s knowledge of the causes, symptoms, and prevalence of childhood obesity may be warranted. The city appears to already be supporting activities related to prevention through leadership but community members’ level of knowledge and involvement could be improved. Given that childhood obesity continues to be a critical public health concern in the city, it will be important to capitalize on resources and leadership to further support collaborative efforts and sustainability. Overall, the CRM may be utilized in additional communities to inform of strengths, weaknesses, and available resources regarding public health concerns.

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