Childhood obesity is at epidemic proportions and continuing to increase in the US. Overweight children are at higher risk of becoming overweight adults. Both overweight children and adults are at risk of developing serious health problems. Since obesity treatment programs have had only limited success, obesity prevention programs that teach children healthy eating habits appear to offer a way for them to grow into their weight or not gain further weight. Most of the existing obesity prevention programs for children have been school based, and generally not worked or had minimal effects. Obesity prevention activities should occur early in life while the behaviors are still malleable and before the major increases in risk to become an obese adult. Fruit and vegetable (FaV) consumption has been associated with lower caloric intake, lower fat intake and lower BMI. Food parenting practices have been demonstrated to influence children's FaV intake. Authoritative parenting practices in particular have been demonstrated to increase children's FaV intake and decrease obesity. Interventions to enhance Authoritative FaV parenting practices should increase children's FaV intake and lower weight gain. Videogames are a very popular and engaging medium. Our recent review showed positive health related effects in 26 out of 27 evaluations. Videogames using simulated real world experiences have been sophisticated enough to train adults, e.g. in learning to fly airplanes. By simulating the parent's experience in parent-child feeding interactions, videogames can provide an intervention modality to train parents in authoritative FaV parenting. A model of factors influencing a parent's decision to implement authoritative FaV parenting practices is needed to guide the development of such a videogame and to evaluate it. The Model of Goal Directed Behavior offers a highly predictive model for understanding FaV parenting. As a result we propose to develop and test measures for a Model of Goal Directed Authoritative FaV Parenting Practices with parents of 3-5 year olds from the dominant ethnic groups in Houston;and to use it to develop and pilot test sessions of a FaV Parenting videogame. Better food parenting practices should lead to higher children's FaV consumption, and thereby lower adiposity and lower risk of obesity.

Public Health Relevance

Childhood obesity is a growing national problem, while obesity prevention programs have generally not had much effect. Since parents control the food environment at home for young children, and food parenting practices have been related to child dietary intake and obesity, an intervention increasing parents use of more effective food parenting techniques should change children's dietary intake and lower their obesity risk. We propose to develop a model of influences on food parenting practices to help guide the design of an intervention, and to develop an innovative format, a casual videogame, to promoting change. Better food parenting practices should lead to higher children's FaV consumption, and thereby lower adiposity and lower risk of obesity.

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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Haverkos, Lynne
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Baylor College of Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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