Demographic, psychosocial, and behavioral correlates of the home food environment of families of Texas preschool children

Naomi E Chen, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Because home food environment (i.e., availability and accessibility) is positively correlated with child intake, it is an intervention target for increasing preschool child vegetable, fruit, and whole grain intake. Three separate studies on home food environment were conducted: (1) to compare home food environment to lunch packed; (2) to characterize the association of taste preference, intention, and knowledge with home food environment, and (3) to examine the association of child asking and child food involvement with home food environment. This secondary data analysis used Lunch is in the Bag nutrition intervention baseline data from parents (n=575) of preschool children (3-5 years old). Multi-level modeling, with classroom nested in center, controlled for demographic variables (e.g., education). Healthful home food environments did not translate into healthy lunches packed. Homes had a large variety of vegetables (mean±SD: 12.8±3.8 items), fruits (13.0±4.4), and moderate variety of whole grain items (3.6±1.6). However, lunches had low servings of vegetables (0.5±0.5) and whole grain (0.5±0.5), high servings of fruits (0.9±0.2) sweets (1.4±1.4), and low servings of salty snacks (0.4±0.7). For fruit and unhealthy items, there were modest positive associations (b: 0.03-0.15; p: <0.001-0.37) between home environment and lunches servings packed. Parent (b: 0.07-0.83; p: 0.001-0.032) and child (b: 0.20; p: 0.02) healthy preferences were positively associated with healthy food environment. Yet, child healthy preferences were negatively associated with unhealthy food environment (b: -0.39-0.12; p: 0.001-0.014). Intention to pack healthy foods was positively associated with healthy availability (b: 0.16-0.59; p<0.001-0.031). Intention to pack unhealthy foods was positively associated with unhealthy availability (b: 0.21-0.35; p<0.001) and accessibility (b: 0.41; p<0.001). Knowledge was positively associated with healthy availability (b: 0.12-0.49; p<0.001-0.039). Child asking was positively associated with healthy availability (b: -0.03-0.18; p: <0.001-0.034) and accessibility (b: 0.02-0.03; p: 0.003-0.049). Child food involvement was associated with healthy availability (b: 0.07-0.43, p: <0.001-0.011) and accessibility (b: 0.07-0.09; p: <0.001-0.005). Nutrition interventions should encourage parents to pack the full variety of fruits and vegetables available in the home, in their child's lunch. Messages should also target preferences, intention, knowledge, child asking behavior, and child food involvement, as these factors as positively associated with home food environment.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Nutrition|Public health

Recommended Citation

Chen, Naomi E, "Demographic, psychosocial, and behavioral correlates of the home food environment of families of Texas preschool children" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3605546.