Emily Kee

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Umoren, Josephine M.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Health Studies


Children--Health and hygiene--Illinois--Northern; Children--Nutrition--Illinois--Northern; Food habits--Illinois--Northern; Parents--Illinois--Northern--Attitudes; Metropolitan areas--Health aspects


The built food environment, defined as a set of factors including availability of fresh foods, proximity of food, prices of food, availability of assistance, and community characteristics that interact to influence food choices and diet, has been found to have an impact on health and nutrition. Therefore, this study examined the effect of neighborhood food environment on child health and nutrition. Specifically, the parents' perceptions of their food environments along with the objective food environment were analyzed in addition to the diet intake and the body mass index of children of ages two to five. 83 parents in an urban and suburban region of Illinois, from generally low socioeconomic status backgrounds, were surveyed on their perceptions of their food environment using Freedman's Perception of Food Environment Scales and were asked to report the last four weeks of their child's dietary intake by the Harvard Service Food Frequency Questionnaire. Residential addresses were coded to census tracts and scored by the modified Retail Food Environment Index. Pearson correlations and ANOVA were used to test the association between neighborhood food environment measures (perceived and mRFEI) and child's BMI and dietary intake. Results showed that improved parental perceptions of food environment were significantly correlated with increased vegetable intake among the children (r(78)=.322, p=.004) and decreased sweetened beverage intake (r(83)=-.226, p=.040). In addition, improved food environment was associated with decreased grain, dairy, salty snack, and meat consumption. Objective and perceived food environments were weakly associated, if at all, and perceptions of the food environment seemed to have a stronger impact on the children's dietary intake than the objective food environment, suggesting that improvements in awareness of food availability, education, and promotion of fresh and healthy foods may have an impact on improving children's dietary intake.


Advisors: Josephine Umoren.||Committee members: Lan Li; Priyanka G. Roy.||Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


v, 110 pages




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