Administered in: College of Health and Human Development
Childhood obesity has become a national epidemic (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012), affecting one in eight preschoolers. Children with a high body mass index are more likely to become adults with a high body mass index and face serious health problems (Pulgaron, 2013). The preventive intervention Recipe 4 Success uses 12 tightly sequenced, structured, and scripted food preparation lessons to help parents sensitively scaffold the development of toddlers’ self-regulation skills – a robust predictor of excessive weight gain (Francis and Susman, 2009) – and healthy eating habits. Recipe 4 Success was created for toddlers whose deliberate self-regulation skills are just beginning to emerge (Kopp, 1982) and whose taste preferences are being formed (Birch and Ventura, 2009). The intervention was designed to be integrated into Early Head Start to take advantage of this national home visiting program’s pre-existing infrastructure for implementation and to serve children living in poverty who are at highest risk for problems with both self-regulation skills (Evans and English, 2002) and healthy eating habits (Wang and Lim, 2012). Results of the first randomized controlled clinical trial (N = 73) indicate that Recipe 4 Success changed all targeted outcome domains, including parents’ responsive feeding practices, parents’ sensitive scaffolding behaviors, children’s self-regulation skills, and children’s healthy eating habits. The proposed project also will utilize a randomized controlled design to test efficacy with a larger sample (N = 250). If successful, Recipe 4 Success will be one of the first preventive interventions to change low-income children’s self-regulation skills and healthy eating habits.