Drs. Hollie Raynor, Rena Wing and Chantelle Hart : Early Eating and Activity Habits could contribute to Childhood Obesity
By: Felicia Breedy
31-January-2009 — ADA-funded researchers Drs. Hollie Raynor, Rena Wing and Chantelle Hart have published findings that were highlighted in the January 9, 2009 issue of ScienceDaily News. In their research study conducted at Brown University School of Medicine in Providence, Rhode Island, they investigated the eating and activity patterns of children ages 2 to 12.
They hypothesized that the early patterns of unhealthy eating and exercise habits in preschool can contribute to the onset of childhood obesity in school-aged children. Hollie Raynor, PhD, RD is the recipient of an ADA Healthy Food Choices Award. Rena Wing, PhD is the recipient of a Mentor-Based Postdoctoral Fellowship Award of which Chantelle Hart, PhD was the postdoctoral fellow from June 2006 to June 2007.
Quantitative data was collected on the parent's age, height and weight. The child's height and weight were collected from their previous medical records. Parents completed a questionnaire on their child's eating and activity habits. The questionnaire results showed that parents of school-aged children had increased reports of their child consuming unhealthy foods such as sweet drinks, salty and sweet snacks. They also reported other behaviors such as eating dinner less with parents, which led to their less healthy food choices and more time in front of the TV. On the other hand, a greater percentage of parents with preschool children reported that their child was "just as" or "a little more" active than their peers.
Study results indicate that parents perceived their school-aged children as having less healthy eating and activity habits while parents with preschool-aged children perceived their children as having healthier habits. Researchers were surprised to find that even though preschool parents perceived that their children had healthy eating and activity behaviors, their children only met 2 dietary recommendations — eating fruit and low-fat dairy — and did not meet other recommendations for diet or leisure activity. Furthermore, neither group of parents reported any behaviors related to weight status which can be a consequence of these unhealthy habits. This may indicate that parents need more information in aiding their children to lead healthier lifestyles. Dr. Hollie Raynor writes, "Interventions designed to help children meet dietary and leisure time activity recommendations should begin by assisting parents with preschool-aged children in developing skills to provide the structure and the environment necessary for their young children to develop healthy lifestyles." The original study was published in the January 2009 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
(Hollie A. Raynor, PhD, RD; Elissa Jelalian, PhD; Patrick M. Vivier, MD; Chantelle N. Hart, PhD; and Rena R. Wing, PhD. Parent-reported Eating and Leisure-time Activity Selection Patterns Related to Energy Balance in Preschool and School-aged Children. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 41, Issue 1, January/February 2009)
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