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To categorize the home food environment and dietary intake of young children (5–7 years old) from racially/ethnically diverse households using objectively collected data.
In-home observations in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA.
Families with 5–7-year-old children who identified as Black, White, Hmong, Latino, Native American or Somali.
There were many significant differences by race/ethnicity for child dietary intake and for the home food environment, with specific patterns emerging by race/ethnicity. For example, Somali children had high Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010) scores, but low daily intakes of fruits and vegetables. Black children had low HEI-2010 scores and a pattern of low intake of healthful foods and high intake of unhealthful foods. White and Latino families had high levels of both healthful and unhealthful home food availability and children with high HEI-2010 scores.
Results indicate that the home food environment of young children varies across racial/ethnic group. Study findings also provide new information regarding the home food environment of young children in previously understudied racial/ethnic groups and indicate that interventions working to improve the home food environment and dietary intake of children may want to consider race/ethnicity.
To examine the types of food served at family dinner in the homes of adolescents and correlations with parent and family sociodemographic characteristics, psychosocial factors and meal-specific variables.
A cross-sectional population-based survey completed by mail or telephone by parents participating in Project F-EAT (Families and Eating and Activity in Teens) in 2009–2010.
Homes of families with adolescents in Minneapolis/St. Paul urban area, MN, USA.
Participants included 1923 parents/guardians (90·8 % female; 68·5 % from ethnic/racial minorities) of adolescents who participated in EAT 2010.
Less than a third (28 %) of parents reported serving a green salad at family dinner on a regular basis, but 70 % reported regularly serving vegetables (other than potatoes). About one-fifth (21 %) of families had fast food at family dinners two or more times per week. Variables from within the sociodemographic domain (low educational attainment) psychosocial domain (high work–life stress, depressive symptoms, low family functioning) and meal-specific domain (low value of family meals, low enjoyment of cooking, low meal planning, high food purchasing barriers and fewer hours in food preparation) were associated with lower healthfulness of foods served at family dinners, in analyses adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics.
There is a need for interventions to improve the healthfulness of food served at family meals. Interventions need to be suitable for parents with low levels of education; take parent and family psychosocial factors into account; promote more positive attitudes toward family meals; and provide skills to make it easier to plan and prepare healthful family meals.
To refine and validate an existing home food inventory (HFI) for low-income Somali- and Spanish-speaking families.
Formative assessment was conducted using two focus groups, followed by revisions of the HFI, translation of written materials and instrument validation in participants’ homes.
Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, Minnesota, USA.
Thirty low-income families with children of pre-school age (fifteen Spanish-speaking; fifteen Somali-speaking) completed the HFI simultaneously with, but independently of, a trained staff member. Analysis consisted of calculation of both item-specific and average food group kappa coefficients, specificity, sensitivity and Spearman's correlation between participants’ and staff scores as a means of assessing criterion validity of individual items, food categories and the obesogenic score.
The formative assessment revealed the need for few changes/additions for food items typically found in Spanish-speaking households. Somali-speaking participants requested few additions, but many deletions, including frozen processed food items, non-perishable produce and many sweets as they were not typical food items kept in the home. Generally, all validity indices were within an acceptable range, with the exception of values associated with items such as ‘whole wheat bread’ (κ = 0·16). The obesogenic score (presence of high-fat, high-energy foods) had high criterion validity with κ = 0·57, sensitivity = 91·8 %, specificity = 70·6 % and Spearman correlation = 0·78.
The revised HFI is a valid assessment tool for use among Spanish and Somali households. This instrument refinement and validation process can be replicated with other population groups.
To describe shared meal patterns and examine associations with dietary intake among young adults.
Population-based, longitudinal cohort study (Project EAT: Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults).
Participants completed surveys and FFQ in high-school classrooms in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, USA in 1998–1999 (mean age = 15·0 years, ‘adolescence’) and follow-up measures online or by mail in 2008–2009 (mean age = 25·3 years, ‘young adulthood’).
There were 2052 participants who responded to the 10-year follow-up survey and reported on frequency of having shared meals.
Among young adults, the frequency of shared meals during the past week was as follows: never (9·9 %), one or two times (24·7 %), three to six times (39·1 %) and seven or more times (26·3 %). Having more frequent family meals during adolescence predicted a higher frequency of shared meals in young adulthood above and beyond other relevant sociodemographic factors such as household composition and parental status. Compared with young adults who never had family meals during adolescence, those young adults who reported seven or more family meals per week during adolescence had an average of one additional shared meal per week. Having more frequent shared meals in young adulthood was associated with greater intake of fruit among males and females, and with higher intakes of vegetables, milk products and some key nutrients among females.
Nutrition professionals should encourage families of adolescents to share meals often and establish the tradition of eating together, and work with young adults to ensure that healthy food and beverage choices are offered at mealtimes.
To evaluate associations between home environmental factors and BMI of young American-Indian children.
Cross-sectional and prospective study.
School-based obesity prevention trial (Bright Start) on a Northern Plains Indian reservation in South Dakota. Mixed model multivariable analysis was used to examine associations between child BMI categories (normal, overweight and obese) and home food availability, children's dietary intake and physical activity. Analyses were adjusted for age, gender, socio-economic status, parent BMI and school; prospective analyses also adjusted for study condition and baseline predictor and outcome variables.
Kindergarten children (n 424, 51 % male; mean age = 5·8 years, 30 % overweight/obese) and parents/caregivers (89 % female; 86 % overweight/obese) had their height and weight measured and parents/caregivers completed surveys on home environmental factors (baseline and 2 years later).
Higher fast-food intake and parent-perceived barriers to physical activity were marginally associated with higher probabilities of a child being overweight and obese. Vegetable availability was marginally associated with lower probabilities of being overweight and obese. The associations between home environmental factors and child weight status at follow-up were not significant.
Findings indicate that selected aspects of the home environment are associated with weight status of American-Indian children. Obesity interventions with this population should consider helping parents to engage and model healthful behaviours and to increase availability of healthful foods at home.
To examine (i) situational characteristics of young adults’ eating occasions, including away-from-home eating, social influences and multi-tasking, and (ii) how these characteristics are associated with specific foods/beverages consumed.
Participants logged numerous characteristics of eating occasions (n 1237) in real time over 7 d.
Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area (Minnesota, USA).
Forty-eight participants, aged 18–23 years.
Half of all eating occasions (46 %) occurred alone, 26 % occurred while watching television and 36 % involved other multi-tasking. Most participants (63 %) did not think about their food choices in advance of eating occasions. Eating that occurred in the absence of television viewing and/or other multi-tasking was less likely to include sweetened beverages and more likely to include items like water, fruit, vegetables, cereal, grains and entrées. Eating occasions occurring alone, and/or those occurring at home, were more likely to include snack foods that required little preparation (e.g. cookies, baked goods) and less likely to include more traditional meal items (e.g. fruits, vegetables, entrée items).
Overall, a large proportion of young adults’ eating occasions occurred alone, while engaging in other activities and with little advanced planning. Although many young adults’ eating occasions consist of a wide range of highly processed, energy-dense, convenience products, more traditional meal settings (i.e. eating at home with others in the absence of multi-tasking) may result in more structured mealtimes and better food choices, such as more fruits and vegetables. Effective behavioural strategies promoting positive eating patterns, including home meal preparation, are urgently needed among young adults.
The purpose of the present paper is to provide an integrated overview of the research methodology and key findings from a decade of research on family meals as part of Project EAT (Eating Among Teens), a large, population-based study of adolescents.
Focus groups conducted with 141 middle-school and high-school adolescents suggested the importance of family meals in influencing adolescents’ food choices. These findings led to the inclusion of questions on family meals in the Project EAT-I survey, completed by 4746 middle-school and high-school students, and in the Project EAT-II longitudinal survey, completed by 2516 of the original participants five years later. A subset of 902 parents also participated in telephone interviews as part of Project EAT-I.
Findings indicate that many adolescents and parents view family meals in a positive light, but there is great diversity in the context and frequency of family meal patterns in the homes of adolescents. Findings further suggest that family meals may have benefits in terms of dietary intake, disordered eating behaviours, substance use and psychosocial health.
Findings from Project EAT, in conjunction with other research studies on family meals, suggest the importance of working with families to increase the frequency and improve the quality of family meals. Further research is needed in order to elucidate the pathways that underpin the relationships between family meals and health outcomes. Suggestions for a future research agenda based on what was learned from Project EAT are provided.
The purpose of the present study was to examine the prevalence of fast-food purchases for family meals and the associations with sociodemographic variables, dietary intake, home food environment, and weight status in adolescents and their parents.
This study is a cross-sectional evaluation of parent interviews and adolescent surveys from Project EAT (Eating Among Teens).
Subjects included 902 middle-school and high-school adolescents (53% female, 47% male) and their parents (89% female, 11% male). The adolescent population was ethnically diverse: 29% white, 24% black, 21% Asian American, 14% Hispanic and 12% other.
Results showed that parents who reported purchasing fast food for family meals at least 3 times per week were significantly more likely than parents who reported purchasing fewer fast-food family meals to report the availability of soda pop and chips in the home. Adolescents in homes with fewer than 3 fast-food family meals per week were significantly more likely than adolescents in homes with more fast-food family meals to report having vegetables and milk served with meals at home. Fast-food purchases for family meals were positively associated with the intake of fast foods and salty snack foods for both parents and adolescents; and weight status among parents. Fast-food purchases for family meals were negatively associated with parental vegetable intake.
Fast-food purchases may be helpful for busy families, but families need to be educated on the effects of fast food for family meals and how to choose healthier, convenient family meals.
(1) To describe promotional activities, particularly student-led, targeting lower-fat à la carte foods that were conducted in secondary schools; and (2) to describe the relationships between the number and duration of total promotional activities for lower-fat à la carte foods and cafeteria sales of such foods over two years.
Promotional activities were implemented in schools that were randomised to the intervention condition of a larger, two-year, school-based, randomised, controlled nutrition intervention trial.
Ten Minnesota secondary schools.
Students and school faculty, school food-service and research staff (measured at the school level).
Over two years, 181 promotions were implemented (n = 49 in Year 1 and n = 132 in Year 2). In Year 1, the number of promotions conducted in schools was significantly associated with percentage lower-fat food sales. In Year 2, the duration of promotions was significantly associated with percentage lower-fat food sales.
Collaborative efforts among students, school food-service staff and research staff can be successful in implementing a large number of nutrition-related, school-wide promotional activities. These efforts can increase the sales of lower-fat foods in à la carte areas of school cafeterias.
The objectives of this paper are to (1) introduce the concept of upstream and downstream public health approaches and discuss diet assessment issues in that context, and (2) provide examples of diet assessment methods and challenges in assessing environmental factors influencing eating patterns.
Dietary assessment of environmental factors is discussed as they relate to nutrition interventions for school-aged children, although the issues transcend population characteristics. Examples of assessment challenges in measuring ‘dietary environments’ are drawn from the Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health (CATCH), Teens Eating for Energy and Nutrition at School (TEENS) and Trying Alternative Cafeteria Options in Schools (TACOS) studies.
The healthfulness of our ‘dietary environments’ (which may include food availability, social norms around food choice and the effect of pricing, policy and promotion on food choice) may be more important in determining what people consume than their individual decision-making about food choice. There is a dearth of published information to inform us on how to assess these ‘dietary environments’.
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