Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition, Obesity
To determine caregiver perceptions of neighborhood-level environmental barriers and facilitators to healthy eating and active living (HEAL) among children living in low-income, urban neighborhoods during the summer.
Methods : The current study was a part of a prospective observational study - Project SWEAT - which investigated determinants of unhealthy weight gain during the summer months in economically disadvantaged school-age children. Caregivers with students in grades preK–5th attending 2 Columbus, OH elementary schools were recruited. Participants completed a demographic survey. To explore neighborhood-level environmental barriers and facilitators to HEAL, participants engaged in a modified HEAL MAPPS (Healthy Eating Active Living Mapping Attributes using Participatory Photographic Surveys) protocol, which included 5 phases: 1) orientation; 2) photographing and geotagging facilitators and barriers to HEAL on daily routes using a Garmin Oregon 650 device; 3) in-depth interview (IDI) discussing images and routes taken; 4) focus group per school site; and 5) culminating local community stakeholder meeting.
Results : Ten families enrolled; 9 families completed photographing, geotagging and IDIs; 5 families participated in focus groups. A majority (77.8%, n=7) of caregivers were African-American, female (88.9%, n=8), and low-income (55.6%, n=5). Preliminary analyses of photograph and IDI themes include: 1) walkway infrastructure crucial for healthy eating and active living; 2) scarce accessibility to healthy, affordable foods; 3) multiple abandoned properties; and 4) unsafe activity near common neighborhood routes.
Conclusions : Results from this pilot indicate caregivers perceive both environmental barriers and facilitators to healthy eating and active living during the summer. Additional research should be conducted to confirm findings from this study and compare findings to different settings (e.g., rural and suburban).
Funding Sources : USDA North Central Nutrition Education Center for Excellence