Term of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health

Committee Chair

Moya Alfonso

Committee Member 1

John Luque

Committee Member 2

Robert Vogel

Committee Member 3

Jen Nickelson

Committee Member 4

Mondi Mason

Abstract

Studies involving school aged children (>5 years of age) have reported that positive and negative outcome messages influence a child's fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption. Positive outcome messages have the most significant mediating effect. However, there is a deficiency of studies involving children <5 years of age. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the perceptions preschool aged children (4 years old) have about F&V messages and how these perceptions relate to F&V knowledge, preference, and consumption. Methods: Parents (n =175) were surveyed about their nutrition behavior, parenting practices and the home food environment. Children's (n = 201) school lunch-time F&V consumption was recorded over five days. Children (n=195) were individually interviewed about their knowledge, preference, and perceptions of F&Vs. Child perceived messages were operationalized into Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) constructs to assist in behavior explanation. Pearson's correlations were used to determine variable relationships and an independent samples t-test was done to determine gender and socioeconomic status (SES) group differences. Results: Preschool children conveyed positive outcome expectancies (POE), negative outcome expectancies (NOE), and prompts most frequently when describing F&Vs. Knowledge was positively correlated to prompts, POE and NOE. Child preference (likes) was negatively correlated to NOE. Dislikes were positively correlated to NOE. Differences between income levels were observed. Discussion: This study provides information about the food environment from the perspective of both parent and child. Providing appropriate messages early in the developmental years of a child's life can play dividends for positive future health outcomes.

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