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Cancer Control Research

5R21CA091475-02
Nicklas, Theresa A.
FOOD PREFERENCES OF ETHNIC MINORITY PRESCHOOLERS

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by investigator): Children's intakes of fruit, juice, and vegetables (FJV) do not meet the recommended minimum of 5 daily servings, and thereby are associated with increased risk of development of cancer and several chronic diseases. The proposed research focuses on FJV preferences in two minority groups (African (AA) and Mexican Americans (MA)) at risk for developing obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cancers later in life. Since children's food preferences and practices are initiated early in life (e.g. 2 to 5 years of age) early dietary intervention programs will have immediate nutritional benefit for young children, and should reduce cancer risk when the learned habits and preferences are carried into adult years. This work will be conducted in Head Start centers because they are important social environments within which food-related behaviors of young children are developed. Food preferences are thought to be determinants of consumption; thus, achievement of the FJV goal could relate to preferences for FJV. Measures of children's FJV preferences should predict whether or not FJV made available to them will be consumed. Validated instruments that assess the affective domain in eating behaviors are needed. While preschoolers can provide reliable, valid information concerning their preferences when food is presented to them, more practical methods are needed for use with larger samples as well as for various ethnic groups. The goal of this developmental project is to use qualitative and quantitative techniques to develop a valid, reliable, and culturally tailored method for assessing FJV preferences of young AA and MA children. The development of new assessment tools with appropriate psychometric evaluation (i.e., multicultural validation of instruments) is needed to provide a solid theoretical and empirical foundation on which to develop more effective, culturally tailored intervention methods for young children, in whom interventions have been largely ineffective to date. This R21 grant proposal will provide the opportunity to develop, test and validate a FJV preference measure that will lead to (1) testing a behavioral model on environmental influences on FJV preferences and consumption by young children, and (2) planning an innovative behavioral intervention that focuses on increasing FJV preferences and consumption of AA and MA preschool children (R01 grant application).


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