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 pilo 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, the proposed 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.
The aims of this study are: 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), and 3) To evaluate the diet quality of the home food supply and to: a) examine its relationship with dietary intake, specifically calories, total and saturated fats, and added sugars, b) determine if there are any differences in diet quality of the home food supply by race/ethnicity or by weight status, respectively. The findings of this proposed study will identify modifiable targets within the home environment for future obesity prevention interventions focusing on this population.

Public Health Relevance

Identifying contextual factors that may influence the development of obesity in children has been the focus of recent research. For young children, the home is the context where most meals are consumed and eating habits begin to develop. Yet, little is known about the overall diet quality of the home food environment, particularly among low-income minority families with young children who are at greater risk for obesity. Current methods limit our ability to evaluate the overall diet quality of these environments;therefore, the proposed project will attempt to address this gap and will help identify appropriate diet-related targets of obesity prevention within the home food environment.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Psychosocial Risk and Disease Prevention Study Section (PRDP)
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Esposito, Layla E
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University of Illinois at Chicago
Schools of Public Health
United States
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