A socio-ecological examination of weight-related characteristics of the home environment and lifestyles of households with young children

Virginia Quick, Jennifer Martin-Biggers, Deanna G Alleman, Nobuko Hongu, John Worobey, Carol Byrd-Bredbenner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Home environment and family lifestyle practices have an influence on child obesity risk, thereby making it critical to systematically examine these factors. Thus, parents (n = 489) of preschool children completed a cross-sectional online survey which was the baseline data collection conducted, before randomization, in the HomeStyles program. The survey comprehensively assessed these factors using a socio-ecological approach, incorporating intrapersonal, interpersonal and environmental measures. Healthy intrapersonal dietary behaviors identified were parent and child intakes of recommended amounts of 100% juice and low intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages. Unhealthy behaviors included low milk intake and high parent fat intake. The home environment’s food supply was found to support healthy intakes of 100% juice and sugar-sweetened beverages, but provided too little milk and ample quantities of salty/fatty snacks. Physical activity levels, sedentary activity and the home’s physical activity and media environment were found to be less than ideal. Environmental supports for active play inside homes were moderate and somewhat better in the area immediately outside homes and in the neighborhood. Family interpersonal interaction measures revealed several positive behaviors, including frequent family meals. Parents had considerable self-efficacy in their ability to perform food-and physical activity-related childhood obesity protective practices. This study identified lifestyle practices and home environment characteristics that health educators could target to help parents promote optimal child development and lower their children’s risk for obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number604
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 14 2017



  • Child
  • Diet
  • Home environment
  • Nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Parents
  • Physical activity
  • Sleep
  • Socio-ecological model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science

Cite this