Technology-Based Measurement of Home Food Availability in Low-Income Households


National data reveals that obesity impacts even young children (2-5 years) and rates steadily increase with age. Obesity prevention efforts that focus on younger children might help to curb the higher rates of overweight/obesity apparent in older children and adolescents. At particular risk for childhood obesity are low-income individuals, who are disproportionately represented in some racial/ethnic minorities. Therefore, understanding modifiable factors, particularly contextual factors linked with obesity-promoting behaviors such as poor dietary intake, may help to identify appropriate targets of obesity prevention.

The home food environment plays a pivotal role in the diets of children, particularly younger children, who still consume most of their meals at home. Yet, little is known about the diet quality of the home food environment. Previous studies have looked at selected food groups or nutrients within the home food environment using self-reported checklists; however, this approach may miss foods regularly available in homes of less understood groups (e.g. racially/ethnically diverse groups, families with young children). Therefore, the goal of this pilot study is to build upon the research that examines home food availability by testing an objective approach for measuring home food availability in the households of low-income African American and Hispanic families with young children. Specifically, this study sets out to conduct comprehensive home inventories using universal product scanners (UPC) in the households of African American and Hispanic families with young children (2-5 years) residing in low-income communities. This study aims...

  1. To examine the feasibility of this approach on 90 minority households with young children
  2. To validate an existing home food availability checklist (self-reported) against completed home food inventories (direct observation via UPC scanner)
  3. To evaluate the diet quality of the home food supply and to examine its relationship with (a) dietary intake, specifically calories, total and saturated fats, and added sugars and (b) determine if there are any differences in diet quality of the home food supply by race/ethnicity or by weight status, respectively.

This study will identify modifiable targets within the home environment for future obesity prevention interventions focusing on this population.

Funding Agency
Start date
End date
Total award
About this grant