Food perceptions and dietary behavior of American-Indian children, their caregivers, and educators: Formative assessment findings from pathways

Joel Gittelsohn, Elanah Greer Toporoff, Mary Story, Marguerite Evans, Jean Anliker, Sally Davis, Anjali Sharma, Jean White

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26 Scopus citations


Dietary findings from a school-based obesity prevention project (Pathways) are reported for children from six different American-Indian nations. A formative assessment was undertaken with teachers, caregivers, and children from nine schools to design a culturally appropriate intervention, including classroom curriculum, food service, physical education, and family components.This assessment employed a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods (including direct observations, paired-child in-depth interviews, focus groups with child caregivers and teachers, and semistructured interviews with caregivers and foodservice personnel) to query local perceptions and beliefs about foods commonly eaten and risk behaviors associated with childhood obesity at home, at school, and in the community. An abundance of high-fat, high-sugar foods was detected in children's diets described by caregivers, school food-service workers, and the children themselves. Although children and caregivers identified fruits and vegetables as healthy food choices, this knowledge does not appear to influence actual food choices. Frequent high-fat/high-sugar food sales in the schools, high-fat entrees in school meals, the use of food rewards in the classroom, rules about finishing all of one's food, and limited family resources are some of the competing factors that need to be addressed in the Pathways intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-13
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, U01-HL-50869, U01-HL-50867, U01-HL-50905, U0l-HL-50885, U01-HL-50907. Address for correspondence:Joel Gittelsohn, Ph.D., Center for Hun~anN utrition and Division of Human Nutrition, Department of International Health, School of Hygiene and Public Health,Johns Hopkins University, 615 North Wolfe Street, Bal-tinlore, MD 21205-2179; Tel: (410) 955-3927: Fax: (410) 955-0196; E-mail: 02000 SOCIETY FOR NUTRITION EDUCATfON


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