Home Food Environment in Relation to Children’s Diet Quality and Weight Status


      The objective of this cohort study was to explore relationships among the home food environment (HFE), child/parent characteristics, diet quality, and measured weight status among 699 child-parent pairs from King County, WA, and San Diego County, CA. HFE variables included parenting style/feeding practices, food rules, frequency of eating out, home food availability, and parents’ perceptions of food costs. Child dietary intake was measured by 3-day recall and diet quality indicators included fruits and vegetables, sweet/savory snacks, high-calorie beverages, and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) score. Individual linear regression models were run in which child BMI z score and child diet quality indicators were dependent variables and HFE variables and child/parent characteristics were independent variables of interest. Fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with parental encouragement/modeling (β=.68, P<0.001) and unhealthful food availability (−0.27, P<0.05); DASH score with food availability (healthful: 1.3, P<0.01; unhealthful: −2.25, P<0.001), food rules (0.45, P<0.01), and permissive feeding style (−1.04, P<0.05); high-calorie beverages with permissive feeding style (0.14, P<0.01) and unhealthful food availability (0.21, P<0.001); and sweet/savory snacks with healthful food availability (0.26, P<0.05; unexpectedly positive). Children's BMI z score was positively associated with parent's use of food restriction (0.21, P<0.001), permissive feeding style (0.16, P<0.05), and concern for healthy food costs (0.10, P<0.01), but negatively with verbal encouragement/modeling (−0.17, P<0.05), and pressure to eat (−0.34, P<0.001). Various HFE factors associated with parenting around eating and food availability are related to child diet quality and weight status. These factors should be considered when designing interventions for improving child health.


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      S. C. Couch is a professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH.


      K. Glanz is George A. Weiss Professor and a professor of epidemiology, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and Nursing, Philadelphia.


      C. Zhou is a research associate professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle.


      B. E. Saelens is a professor of pediatrics, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle.


      J. F. Sallis is a distinguished professor of family and preventive medicine, and chief, Division of Behavioral Medicine, University of California, San Diego.