Nutrition socialization experiences of children in the Head Start program.


Gable S, Lutz S.




J Am Diet Assoc.


Some preschoolers may be at risk for overweight and obesity. To gain greater insight into children's early nutrition socialization experiences, the association of adult nutrition attitudes and mealtime behaviors to young children's eating behaviors and weight-for-height was investigated. Forty-six parent-child pairs and 8 Head Start teachers participated. Children were weighed and measured; parents completed measures of child eating behaviors, nutrition attitudes, and family mealtimes; teachers reported their own nutrition attitudes and were observed during mealtimes. Correlational findings indicated that parents' negative mealtime practices were associated with higher child weight-for-height and that parents' positive nutrition-attitudes were related to more pleasant family mealtimes, fewer negative mealtime practices, and less troublesome child eating behaviors. The Head Start mealtime environment was developmentally appropriate and predictable for children. Although teachers engaged in some nutrition teaching during meals, a number of opportunities were missed for promoting children's nutrition socialization. In sum, these results identified potential opportunities for improving children's early nutrition socialization experiences.