Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name



Nutrition and Food Science

First Advisor

K-L Catherine Jen


Although obesity rate has increased steadily over the past 20 years in the US, a 2006 report showed that the obesity rate is expected to continue to rise, with 13.9% of children between the ages of 2 to 5 years are considered overweight. However, 26.2% were considered at risk of becoming overweight. The parents/caregivers are the key players for developing their children's healthy or unhealthy eating habits since they are the specific determinants of food selection, serving structured meals and being the role models to their children by eating the same food offered themselves. This reflects the parents' significant roles and effectiveness in building children's positive or negative eating habits by being in charge of what their young children eat. Obviously, this leads to an increase in their children's early exposure to healthy food.

Early in life behavioral changes are more likely to persist into adulthood and may have long-lasting health benefits. Our hypothesis is that incorporating parents/caregivers in nutrition intervention program, by increasing their knowledge of and preference for healthy foods, will enhance their healthy eating practices and lead to a positive influence on their children's eating behavior.

Study design: The parents/caregivers and preschoolers were involved in this study. The parents and the preschoolers received separate nutrition educational classes. The parents were asked to fill out a food frequency questionnaire regarding food frequency and the number of servings consumed daily or weekly, from selected food groups and subgroups, pre and post intervention, to evaluate the effectiveness of nutrition education on changing the participant's dietary habits. At the end of the nutrition intervention period, pre and post intervention data were evaluated to assess the effectiveness of nutrition intervention on behavioral change in African American parent/ caregiver, and their kids.

The result showed that nutrition education intervention increased or decreased for better or increased for worse, in the food consumption of the selected food groups or subgroups post-intervention. The food groups & sub groups that increased for better were; dark green or orange vegetables, brown rice or whole grain pasta, trimmed or drained fat, extra lean ground beef or no ground meat, catfish, whitefish or shellfish. The food groups and their subgroups that were decreased for better were gravy or meat dripping, butter or margarine, salt shaker use at the table, sweets, and hot tea or coffee drinks sweetened with sugar. However, the food groups and their subgroups that increased for worse were; sour or whipped toppings, ice milk, sherbet or frozen yogurt, regular or non-diet sodas, ground beef or chuck, and Cool-Aid or iced tea sweetened with sugar. Finally, not all food groups showed an improvement in consumption, no significant differences were detected in all the selected food groups as well as their sub groups. This study did show an improve in nutrition knowledge, eating behavior in African American parent/caregiver and kids group after 6 months of nutrition education/ intervention.

Included in

Nutrition Commons