232078 Food environments contributing to caloric overconsumption among African American children in Birmingham, AL: Caregiver perceptions

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 3:15 PM - 3:30 PM

Monica L. Baskin, PhD , Division of Preventive Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Tiffany L. Cox, MPH , Department of Epidemiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Ronnie Williams , Congregations for Public Health, Inc, Birmingham, AL
Jamy D. Ard, MD , Department of Nutrition Sciences and Internal Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
BACKGROUND: Social and environmental inequities in food environments may contribute to a greater burden of obesity among African American children. Targeted marketing of high caloric foods to African Americans have been recognized by researchers, but perceptions of community members have yet to be explored.

PURPOSE: To assess caregivers' perceptions of the food environments contributing to overconsumption of calories among African American children (ages 3-11). Collective knowledge gained can be used to facilitate critical dialogue between community members and policy makers to increase the demand for healthy food in African American communities.

METHODS: Using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) framework, 30 community members participated in indepth interviews and a Photovoice project to document community concerns. Content analysis was used to summarize qualitative data.

RESULTS: Abundance of “junk food,” lack of healthy foods, and limited skill in preparing healthy foods were identified as primary contributors in the home environment. Outside of the home, high presence of marketing (in-store ads, billboards), limited products in food stores, and lack of full service grocers were implicated in the neighborhood environment. Actions to address these issues were proposed including social marketing, a moratorium on new fast food restaurants, and incentives for wholesale/discount stores to locate in these communities.

CONCLUSIONS: Caregivers perceive their home and neighborhood environments as contributing to the overconsumption of calories among young African American children. Communities armed with local data and action strategies can help galvanize the demand for healthy food and eliminate environmental inequities.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the utility of ethnographic methodology in describing social and environmental contexts of eating behaviors. 2. Identify the perceptions of food environment leading to overconsumption of calories among caregivers of African American children. 3. Describe the relevance of community-based participatory research in achieving social justice and eliminating environmental inequities.

Keywords: Obesity, Marketing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to give this presentation on this material because I led the research study that is being presented. I have further conducted multiple research studies using community-based participatory research and focusing on food/nutrition environments associated with obesity.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.