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The relationship between food insecurity and weight status, eating behaviors, the home food environment, meal planning and preparation, and perceived stress in parents living in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area

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Objectives Through a cross-sectional observational study, this thesis evaluates the relationship between food insecurity and weight status, eating behaviors, the home food environment, meal planning and preparation, and perceived stress

Objectives Through a cross-sectional observational study, this thesis evaluates the relationship between food insecurity and weight status, eating behaviors, the home food environment, meal planning and preparation, and perceived stress as it relates to predominantly Hispanic/Latino parents in Phoenix, Arizona. The purpose of this study was to address gaps in the literature by examining differences in "healthy" and "unhealthy" eating behaviors, foods available in the home, how time and low energy impact meal preparation, and the level of stress between food security groups. Methods Parents, 18 years or older, were recruited during two pre-scheduled health fairs, from English as a second language classes, or from the Women, Infants, and Children's clinic at a local community center, Golden Gate Community Center, in Phoenix, Arizona. An interview, electronic, or paper survey were offered in either Spanish or English to collect data on the variables described above. In addition to the survey, height and weight were collected for all participants to determine BMI and weight status. One hundred and sixty participants were recruited. Multivariate linear and logistic regression models, adjusting for weight status, education, race/ethnicity, income level, and years residing in the U.S., were used to assess the relationship between food security status and weight status, eating behaviors, the home food environment, meal planning and preparation, and perceived stress. Results Results concluded that food insecurity was more prevalent among parents reporting lower income levels compared to higher income levels (p=0.017). In adjusted models, higher perceived cost of fruits (p=0.004) and higher perceived level of stress (p=0.001) were associated with food insecurity. Given that the sample population was predominately women, a post-hoc analysis was completed on women only. In addition to the two significant results noted in the adjusted analyses, the women-only analysis revealed that food insecure mothers reported lower amounts of vegetables served with meals (p=0.019) and higher use of fast-food when tired or running late (p=0.043), compared to food secure mothers. Conclusion Additional studies are needed to further assess differences in stress levels between food insecure parents and food insecure parents, with special consideration for directionality and its relationship to weight status.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Lay theories of healthy eating: insights from cross-cultural comparisons

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Lay theories of healthy eating are a potentially important consideration for public health and nutrition efforts as perceptions and beliefs about “healthiness” are key determinants of dietary choices (Furst et

Lay theories of healthy eating are a potentially important consideration for public health and nutrition efforts as perceptions and beliefs about “healthiness” are key determinants of dietary choices (Furst et al. 1996; Grunert, 2007). A rich body of social science literature has examined how people across cultures decide what counts as healthy eating, yet such work has focused mainly on what people think is good and bad to consume, overlooking another important aspect- how one eats. The ways one eats can include patterns and timing of meal intake, as well as mental and emotional states during eating (henceforth, “eating styles”). This dissertation aims to 1) examine whether beliefs on eating styles constitute a separate category of healthy eating perceptions, 2) describe American and Eastern European lay models of how both food characteristics and styles of eating shape health outcomes, and 2) investigate cross-cultural variation in the endorsement of eating styles as important for health in the United States and Eastern Europe. Aims 1 and 2 use pile sorts (n=48), in-person interviews (n=49), and online surveys (n=283) to elicit subjective perspectives on how different eating considerations impact health, and aim 3 involves two sets of questionnaires collected in the U.S. (n=50; n=42) and Eastern Europe (n=42; n=35) to test the hypothesis that levels of collectivism influence variation in endorsement of eating styles for health. Results demonstrate that “eating styles” is a separate category of beliefs in people’s models of healthy eating and individuals in both cultures perceive a variety of important health outcomes from how one eats- weight management, energy levels, digestive health, and overall feeling of wellbeing. These perceptions are not uniform, as participants held contrasting models of how styles of food consumption can influence weight control, and Eastern European respondents held additional views on how aspects of food timing can affect long-term health. Finally, results show that individual level of collectivism, not differences in nationality, accounts for variation in endorsement of eating styles for health. These results suggest that the holistic pattern of attention characteristic of the collectivist social orientation extends to the domain of diet.

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Date Created
  • 2017

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Individual differences in the efficacy of sodium chloride and sucrose as bitterness suppressors of brassicaceae vegetables

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The unpleasant bitter taste found in many nutritious vegetables may deter their consumption. While bitterness suppression by prototypical tastants is well-studied in the chemical and pharmacological fields, mechanisms to

The unpleasant bitter taste found in many nutritious vegetables may deter their consumption. While bitterness suppression by prototypical tastants is well-studied in the chemical and pharmacological fields, mechanisms to reduce the bitterness of foods such as vegetables remain to be elucidated. Here tastants representing the taste primaries of salty and sweet were investigated as potential bitterness suppressors of three types of Brassicaceae vegetables. The secondary aim of these studies was to determine whether the bitter masking agents were differentially effective for bitter-sensitive and bitter-insensitive individuals. In all experiments, participants rated vegetables plain and with the addition of tastants. In Experiments 1-3, sucrose and NNS suppressed the bitterness of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, whereas NaCl did not. Varying concentrations of NaCl and sucrose were introduced in Experiment 4 to assess the dose-dependency of the effects. While sucrose was a robust bitterness suppressor, NaCl suppressed bitterness only for participants who perceived the plain Brussels sprouts as highly bitter. Experiment 5, through the implementation of a rigorous control condition, determined that some but not all of this effect can be accounted for by regression to the mean. Individual variability in taste perception as determined by sampling of aqueous bitter, salty, and sweet solutions did not influence the degree of suppression by NaCl or sucrose. Consumption of vegetables is deterred by their bitter taste. Utilizing tastants to mask bitterness, a technique that preserves endogenous nutrients, can circumvent this issue. Sucrose is a robust bitter suppressor whereas the efficacy of NaCl is dependent upon bitterness perception of the plain vegetables.

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Date Created
  • 2014