Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Home Food Environment Explain Disparities in Dietary Practices of Middle School Children in Texas

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Abstract

Objective:

To examine racial and ethnic differences among middle school children in the home food environment (HFE) and the extent to which associations of healthy and unhealthy eating with the HFE differ by race and ethnicity.

Design:

Cross-sectional secondary analyses of baseline data from Coordinated Approach to Child Health Middle School, a school-based intervention targeting obesity and obesogenic behaviors among middle school children in Austin, TX.

Participants:

A total of 2,502 children (mean age, 13.9 years; 58% Hispanic, 28% white, and 14% black).

Variables Measured:

Availability and accessibility of healthy foods, and parental support of healthy eating, and family meals. Consumption of both healthy and unhealthy foods was examined.

Analysis:

Differences across racial and ethnic groups in aspects of HFE were estimated using linear regression. Models also examined racial and ethnic differences in consumption of healthy and unhealthy foods. If adjusting for HFE, such differences were accounted for.

Results:

White children had significantly better HFEs than Hispanic and black children with greater availability and accessibility of healthy foods (P < .001). Adjusting for a healthy HFE reduced disparities in consumption of healthy foods but not in consumption of unhealthy foods.

Conclusions and Implications:

Improved HFE may increase healthy eating among ethnic minorities but is unlikely to reduce unhealthy eating.

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