Child Health and Development Lab
Social Networks and Infant Feeding Practices
The overarching goal of this study is to understand social contexts surrounding infant feeding practices among low SES minority mothers whose infants are at elevated risk for childhood obesity. In recognition that familial social networks (close family and friends) provide the context within which infant feeding practices that may lead to rapid growth are influenced and occur, the aim of this study is to identify key social network members who are influential in determining infant feeding practices associated with child obesity (e.g., no breastfeeding, early introduction of solid foods, provision of infant cereals in bottles). Data collection for this project involved face-to-face interviews with 107 mothers who were in their third trimester of pregnancy or had infants between 0-12 months of age. Interviews were completed in July 2012 and data analysis is currently underway.
Consequences and Determinants of Obesity in Disadvantaged Preschoolers
Obesity is a prevalent health condition that has adverse consequences for children’s mental and physical health. Despite the fact that rates of obesity have tripled among children ages 2 to 5 during the past 30 years, few studies have examined the effect of obesity on preschoolers’ social and emotional development. Additionally, little is known about the cognitive processes that may increase the risk for obesity in among low SES and minority preschoolers who are at greatest risk for obesity. To address these gaps in the literature, this project seeks to 1) to determine whether there is a relation between weight and behavior problems in preschool-aged children participating in Head Start; and 2) to elucidate the associations of these preschoolers’ food-related implicit beliefs to child weight, food preferences, eating behaviors, and food-related parenting practices. Data collection is anticipated to begin in late fall 2012.
Preventing Obesity in Early Childhood Care Settings: Child Care Providers Survey Study
Child care settings represent an important target for obesity prevention efforts. Compared with the home and family influences on childhood obesity, however, less is known about aspects of the child care environment that affect children’s weight. This study will survey child care providers to learn more about their beliefs and attitudes about childhood obesity, and will examine the associations of food-related caregiving practices with caregivers’ knowledge of developmental norms related eating behaviors. Additionally, this project will investigate whether aspects of the child care environment (e.g., policies and practices related to nutrition and physical activity) are related to food-related caregiving practices or providers’ beliefs and attitudes about childhood obesity. Data collection is anticipated to begin in late fall 2012.