M.S. (Master of Science)
Department of Health Studies
Toddlers--Nutrition; Preschool children--Nutrition
A balanced diet is fundamental in growth and development. The toddler and preschool years represent a time of cognitive, emotional, and social development. Many children's dietary intake does not meet the recommendations established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and he U.S. Department of Agriculture. Specifically, there is a concern regarding fruit and vegetable intake. Picky/ selective eating patterns are common among children, but have been shown to be more prevalent and ongoing in children with developmental delays. Family meal style service has been shown to promote a balanced diet, and thus a useful tool for combating picky/selective eating. Family Meal Style eating makes meal time a learning experience and is aimed to help children develop positive attitudes towards nutritious foods, learn to engage in social eating situations, and develop healthy eating patterns. Children learn through observation at a young age, and therefore caregivers and peers serve as important role models for establishing eating patterns and behaviors. In the play group setting, individuals have the opportunity to model peers, play group organizers, and parents/ caregivers. Unfortunately, local play groups are limited and typically not aimed towards children with developmental delays, and those that are available charge a substantial out-of-pocket fee. The objective of the study was to determine the impact of Family Style Meal Service and modeling techniques during snack time on dietary intake and problematic eating behaviors among children with developmental delays participating in an interdisciplinary play group. A pre-test, post-test research design was used for the Interdisciplinary Developmental Play Group intervention. The commitment for participation was a total was 10 weeks; week 1 involved screening followed by 8 weeks of intervention, and a follow up assessment on week 10. In total, 12 children completed the program. The aim was to increase the children's consumption of fruit, vegetables, dairy, and protein and decrease the children's consumption of sugar sweetened foods and beverages and salty snacks. After analysis, it was determined that the average intake of fruit, vegetables, dairy, protein, sugar sweetened foods and beverages, and salty snack all decreased over the intervention. Following a Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test, it can be stated that these results lack significance (α<0.05). However, eating and meal time behaviors were found to have significantly (α<0.05) decreased following the intervention. In conclusion, Family Style Meal Service and modeling techniques are positively related to eating and meal time behaviors in young children participating in play group therapy. However, the 8-week intervention did not prove to have a significant positive impact on dietary intake. The findings suggest that the social setting of the play group and Family Style Meal Service may be important in establishing healthy habits, but are not conclusive.
Mitchell, Emily V., "The effect of family meal style service and modeling techniques on dietary consumption and eating behaviors for toddlers in a developmental play group" (2016). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 5510.
vi, 108 pages
Northern Illinois University
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