The Relationship between Perceived and Objective Food Environments, Dietary Intake and Weight Status in Latino Families


The study builds on a recently NIH-funded overweight prevention trial, the Family-Based Obesity Prevention in Latino Families (FBOP) study, to gain a better understanding of the means by which neighborhood food environments influence dietary intake and weight status in Latino families with preschool age children. The investigation specifically proposes to:

  1. Identify individual, familial and environmental predictors of perceived neighborhood food environments (i.e. food and food outlet availability, cost and quality) in Latino parents with preschool age children.
  2. Examine the association between parents' perceptions of their neighborhood food environment and parents' and children's dietary intake and weight status.
  3. Evaluated food acquisition behaviors (specifically frequency and type of food outlets used) as a potential mediator of the relationship between perceived neighborhood food environments and parents'/children's dietary intake.
  4. Evaluate if perceived neighborhood food environments moderate the effects of a family/school-based intervention on changes in parents' and children's dietary intake and weight status.

The Healthy Eating Research study uses a baseline (0 weeks) and post-intervention (14 weeks) demographic, behavioral, psychosocial and anthropometric data collected in FBOP. However, to address our aims, FBOP data is supplemented in three ways. First, this project objectively assesses food outlet availability, food availability, cost and quality within the neighborhood areas of families (n=140) enrolled in FBOP. Objective food environment assessments is conducted at baseline using a mixed method approach including food outlet mapping using geographic information system (GIS), environmental food outlet audits and neighborhood observations. Second, our study assesses families' (parental) perceptions of their food environment. Questionnaires assessing perceived food outlet availability, food availability, cost and quality measures are added to existing baseline and post-intervention interviews conducted with FBOP families. Lastly, to help identify determinants of perceived food environments, we are administering two additional measures at baseline and post-intervention including an activity space measure (using portable global positioning system-GPS units) which measures areas where parents' typical move/travel or "lifestyle," and car ownership (questionnaire) to further explore how families resources/constraints influence perceptions of their food environment.

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