Neighborhood and Parental Influences on Diet and Physical Activity Behaviors in Young Low-Income Pediatric Patients

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Abstract

This study explores the relationship between neighborhood characteristics and caregiver preferences for establishing diet and physical activity behaviors among low-income African American and Hispanic young children (2-5 years). Primary caregivers of young children were recruited from 2 urban pediatric clinics to participate in focus groups (n = 33). Thematic analysis of transcripts identified 3 themes: neighborhood constraints on desired behaviors, caregivers’ strategies in response to neighborhoods, and caregivers’ sense of agency in the face of neighborhood constraints. This study elucidates the dynamic relationship between neighborhoods and caregiver preferences, their interrelated impacts on establishment of diet and physical activity behaviors among young children, and the important role of caregiver agency in establishing behaviors among young children. To effectively address obesity disparities among young children, primary care behavioral interventions must leverage and support such resilient caregiver responses to neighborhood constraints in order to optimally address racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in obesity among young children.

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