An Obesity Risk Assessment Tool for Young Children: Validity With BMI and Nutrient Values

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Abstract

Objective

Demonstrate validity and reliability for an obesity risk assessment tool for young children targeting families' modifiable home environments.

Design

Longitudinal design with data collected over 100 weeks.

Setting

Head Start and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

Participants

Parent–child pairs (n = 133) provided food behavior assessments; 3 child-modified, 24-hour dietary recalls; 3 ≥ 36-hour activity logs; and measured heights and weights.

Main Outcome Measure

Five measures of validity and 5 of reliability.

Results

Validity was excellent for the assessment tool, named Healthy Kids, demonstrating an inverse relationship with child body mass index percentile-for-age (P = .02). Scales were significantly related to hypothesized variables (P ≤ .05): fruit or vegetable cup equivalents; folate; vitamins A, C, and D; β-carotene; calcium; fiber; sugar; screen, sleep, and physical activity minutes; and parent behaviors. Measures of reliability were acceptable.

Conclusions and Implications

Overall, children with higher Healthy Kids scores had a more healthful profile as well as lower body mass index percentiles-for-age 1.5 years later. Healthy Kids has potential for use by nutrition professionals as a screening tool to identify young children most at risk for excess weight gain, as an evaluation to assess intervention impact, and as a counseling tool to tailor intervention efforts. Future research should include validation in other settings and with other populations.

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