POSITIVE FEEDING PRACTICES, TOTAL FRUIT INTAKE, TOTAL VEGETABLE INTAKE, AND OVERALL DIET QUALITY IN CHILDREN OF ETHNICALLY AND RACIALLY DIVERSE FAMILIES
Date of Award
Master of Science in Nutrition and Food Science
Nutrition and Food Sciences
Objectives: To investigate the relationship between child involvement in meal preparation, responsiveness to child’s fullness cues, and regular meal and snack times with total vegetable intake, total fruit intake, and overall diet quality in 2-5-year-old children of low-income, ethnically and racially diverse families.
Design: This study is a cross sectional secondary data analysis of the Strong Families Start at Home study.
Participants: Participants are parents and 2-5-year-old children of low-income, ethnically and racially diverse families of Rhode Island that participated in the Strong Families Start at Home study.
Methods: The Strong Families Start at Home study is a 6-month pilot intervention which consists of home visits, phone calls, and text messages delivered by a community health worker. During home visits at baseline and 6-months, trained study staff gathered data on anthropometrics of the parent and child, administered two 24-hour dietary recalls, and led participants through questionnaires that included demographics, feeding questions, and other health behaviors. The Food Parenting Inventory questionnaire measured parental feeding practices such as child involvement in meal preparation, responsiveness to child’s fullness cues, and regular meal and snack times. Participants completed the questionnaire on a 5-point Likert Scale ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (always) and 1 (disagree) to 5 (agree). Higher subscale scores indicate greater use of that child feeding practice. REDCap, an electronic data capture tool hosted at the University of Rhode Island, was used to manage all questionnaire data. Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores were used to assess total vegetable intake, total fruit intake, and child diet quality. Descriptive statistics of variables of interest, frequencies for categorical variables and mean/standard deviation for continuous variables, were conducted. Pearson correlation values were also determined between each variable.
Results: Parents (n=63) are mostly mothers (90%), Hispanic/Latinx (87%), born outside of the United States (62%), with household incomes <$25,000 (54%). Responsiveness to the child’s fullness cues (3.74, 1.17) is used most frequently by study participants, followed closely by offering regular meal and snack times (3.72, 1.04). Child involvement in meal preparation (1.89, 0.92) is used the least by the study population. There are no significant correlations between any of the analyzed positive parental feeding practices and diet quality or total fruit or vegetable intake.
Conclusion: Based on this study’s findings, preschool-aged children need to eat more fruits and vegetables, but especially vegetables. Across the study population, preschool-age children have a diet quality, or total HEI score, of 61 out of 100, mean total vegetable score of 1.77 out of a maximum score of 5 and a mean total fruit score of 3.88 out of a maximum score of 5. Existing literature suggests that positive parental feeding practices, such as responsiveness to child’s fullness cues, regular meal and snack times, and child involvement in meal preparation, will yield more long-term health benefits, including increased diet quality and fruit and vegetable intake, to preschoolers. This is not reflected in the current study, as none of the independent and dependent variables are significantly correlated. However, future research is necessary in order to confirm this.
Young, Jordan E., "POSITIVE FEEDING PRACTICES, TOTAL FRUIT INTAKE, TOTAL VEGETABLE INTAKE, AND OVERALL DIET QUALITY IN CHILDREN OF ETHNICALLY AND RACIALLY DIVERSE FAMILIES" (2023). Open Access Master's Theses. Paper 2336.