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Title:Impact of the mealtime environment and caregiver feeding strategies on picky eating behaviors in children
Author(s):Luchini, Virginia
Advisor(s):Donovan, Sharon M; Lee, Soo-Yeun
Contributor(s):McBride, Brent A; Fiese, Barbara F
Department / Program:Nutritional Sciences
Discipline:Nutritional Sciences
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:M.S.
Genre:Thesis
Subject(s):picky eating, caregiver feeding strategies
Abstract:Children's food preferences and eating habits are influenced by a multitude of factors, including the mealtime environment and caregiver feeding strategies. Childhood represents a critical time to establish healthy eating behaviors, because proper nutrition is needed for optimal growth and development and eating habits formed during this time tend to persist into adulthood. However, ensuring that children consume the adequate amount of nutrients is often a challenge caregivers face due the child's picky eating behavior. Picky eating (PE) is typically defined as having low dietary variety and rejecting both familiar and unfamiliar foods and has been linked to several negative outcomes. Previous literature regarding PE has largely focused on parents even though millions of children are also cared for in non-parental childcare settings such as center-based childcare (CBCC) and home-based childcare (HBCC). While it is known that the environment and the strategies that are utilized at mealtime impact child eating behavior and food preference, there is a gap in the literature addressing how differences between a child's home and childcare (i.e., CBCC or HBCC) environment and the mealtime strategies utilized in each impact child PE behavior. Therefore, the overall goal of this research was to characterize the influence of the mealtime environment and caregiver mealtime strategies on PE behaviors in children. In order to achieve this goal, there were four objectives: 1) identify differences in mealtime strategies between parents and childcare providers, 2) compare differences in caregiver perception and agreement of child pickiness and its influence on utilized mealtime strategies, 3) compare observed and reported child PE behaviors between the home and childcare environments, and 4) compare observed and reported caregiver mealtime strategies in response to child PE behavior between the home and childcare environment. Fulfillment of these objectives was achieved by observing children (n=26 from CBCC, n=24 from HBCC) consuming lunch twice in their childcare location, once consuming the "popular" meal and once consuming the "non-popular" meal, and twice in their family home consuming the same popular/non-popular meals. After completion of observations, a codebook was created in order to capture child PE behavior and mealtime strategies utilized by caregivers. Research assistants achieved reliability of >0.90 Cohen's Kappa on the four PE behaviors of interest: physical refusal, physical avoidance, verbal refusal, and verbal avoidance and on the five mealtime strategies: encouragements, modelling, question [about behavior or food], ignoring/no response, and other. In addition, caregivers completed the Mealtime Assessment Survey (MAS), which assessed the child's typical mealtime behavior, and the Parent or Teacher Mealtime Survey (PMS/TMS), which assessed the typical strategies they utilized at mealtime. Results for the first objective showed that overall, parents and childcare providers utilize different strategies at mealtime, especially CBCC parents and providers. In almost all cases, parents were more likely than childcare providers to report utilizing the strategies. Surprisingly, we also found differences in mealtime strategies between parents who elect to send their child to CBCC versus HBCC. These findings led to objective 2. From this study we found that parents were more likely than childcare providers to perceive a child as a PE, and that their perception of child pickiness had a greater influence in the mealtime strategies that they utilized than childcare providers. Additionally, we found that between HBCC and CBCC parents and providers, HBCC caregivers agreed more with one another in their perception of child pickiness and were more likely to perceive a child as being picky than CBCC caregivers. The results from objective 2 led us to believe that children could be behaving differently at mealtime between their home and childcare locations. Therefore, for objective 3 we compared observed and reported child PE behaviors between the home and childcare environments. We found that overall, children were observed to be pickier eaters at home, even when controlling for the food. Significant correlations between reported and observed mealtime behaviors were found for some, but not all caregivers. Lastly, we were interested in comparing observed and reported caregiver mealtime strategies in response to child PE behavior between the home and childcare environment. Results from this study revealed that parents were more likely than childcare providers to respond to a child's picky eating behavior. We also found that overall both parents and childcare providers reported using all strategies significantly more than we observed them using, with the exception of ignoring/no response. The collective findings from this research defined for the first time how differences in the mealtime environment (home vs. CBCC or HBCC) and caregiver feeding strategies impact PE behavior in children. These findings can be used for future intervention studies that focus on helping caregivers raise healthy, independent eaters.
Issue Date:2016-07-12
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/92941
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Virginia Luchini
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-11-10
Date Deposited:2016-08


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