Home food availability and child intake among rural families identified to be at-risk for health disparities

Richard E Boles, Susan L Johnson, Alexandra Burdell, Patricia L Davies, William J Gavin, Laura L Bellows
Appetite 2018 December 13

BACKGROUND: Home food environments (HFE) of children impact dietary intake, though relatively few studies have focused on young children from backgrounds with socioeconomic and racial-ethnic diversity. The objective of the present study was to examine the relationship between the HFE and child dietary intake of preschool-aged children from rural and low-income, culturally diverse families.

METHODS: Children (aged 2-5 years) and their primary caregivers (n = 164 parent-child dyads) participated in this study using a cross-sectional design. HFE, including home food availability, accessibility and purchasing, was measured by the Home-IDEA, a checklist instrument completed by parents. Parents also reported child dietary intake using the Block Kids Food Screener (BKFS).

RESULTS: Home food availability of both healthful and unhealthful foods, including fruits, vegetables, meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages significantly predicted reported child intake of these foods after controlling for demographic, location and weight status. Overall dietary intake recommendations were not met for vegetables, whole grains, protein, and dairy. The accessibility and purchasing frequency of foods was not associated with reported child dietary intake.

CONCLUSIONS: The available HFE showed positive associations with dietary intake for a broad range of foods ranging from healthy and less healthy foods among preschool-aged children from a health disparate population. Recommendations to improve the quality of dietary intake for young children may be facilitated by modifying the HFE by focusing on increasing the availability of healthy foods and diminishing the presence of less healthful options.

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