Cancer Control Research5R21CA107010-02
Nicklas, Theresa Ann
GETTING A HEAD START ON HEALTHIER EATING HABITS
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Children's intakes of fruit and vegetables (FJV) do not meet the recommended minimum of 5 daily servings and thereby are associated with increased risk for development of cancer and several chronic diseases. The proposed research focuses on FJV preferences in two low-income minority groups, African- (AA) and Hispanic-Americans (HA), at risk for developing obesity, 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 child-care settings because they are important social environments within which food-related behaviors of young children are developed. Food preferences, the primary predictor of FJV consumption in children, are influenced by availability, variety, taste, and repeated exposure. First Bites is a dietary change intervention targeted at children in Head Start. The goal of this exploratory project is to test the feasibility of an innovative approach to favorably influence FJV preferences, among preschool children attending Head Start centers, who are predominantly AA and HA. First Bites is designed to motivate and persuade children to make healthful food choices by reaching them in a language they speak, and in ways that are engaging and entertaining. The intervention will include videotaped FJV commercials that persuade using encouragement, modeling, and appropriate reinforcement for FJV consumption. Food preference is a major correlate of FJV consumption. Thus primary endpoint will be changes in FJV preferences. This R21 grant application will provide preliminary data to support the use of videotaped FJV commercials as an intervention strategy to favorably influence FJV preferences among preschool children; and, ultimately FJV intake. This exploratory project will lead to planning a more comprehensive intervention incorporating behavioral techniques (e.g., role modeling, encouragement, repeated exposure) that would be used to reinforce the impact of the FJV commercials on children's FJV preferences and consumption in an ensuing R01 grant.