Food Availability and Behavior of Youth EFNEP Participants in Virginia
Almohanna, Amal Sami
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ABSTRACT Low-income and minority youth are disproportionately affected by low food access, low dietary quality, and high levels of obesity. The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is designed specifically to assist limited resource youth and adult audiences to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and changed behavior necessary for nutritionally sound diets, and to contribute to their personal development and improvement of the overall family diet and nutritional well-being by using a peer-education model (USDA, 2012). To date, little published research exists on dietary patterns and food access among youth who participated in EFNEP. The specific research goals of this study were to: 1) explore baseline dietary and physical activity self-efficacy and behaviors of youth EFNEP participants and compare to national trends, 2) examine differences in self-efficacy and behaviors based on socio-demographic factors and food availability, and 3) determine the association between food availability and dietary behavior. This study consisted of conducting surveys with 1,864 low-income youth, ages 7 to 14 years old, across Virginia prior to participation in an obesity-prevention program. The survey consisted of a 55-item written pre, post-test instrument that had been previously tested for validity and reliability. Most participants reported availability across all food groups, with the exception of meat and beans (41.4%) and dessert (48.3%). Significantly less than half of participants reported not meeting dietary behavior thresholds for the following food groups: grains (27.0%); whole grain (19.7%); low-fat milk (31.5%); vegetables (18.2%); colored vegetables (15.3%); and baked foods (31.7%). Availability of meats and beans and fruits were higher among Latinos than non-Latinos. Younger participants reported a higher consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and screen time; however, the children had participated in physical activity. Participants who reported a higher availability of fruits and vegetables at home also participated in physical activities at least once a day. This study provided insight into the availability of food, as well as food consumption among low-income audiences across Virginia, based on youth EFNEP reporting. The results highlighted the importance of strategic interventions to improve the availability of nutritious foods and obesity prevention strategies to enhance self-efficacy and intake of nutritious foods among low-income youth.
- Doctoral Dissertations