Article Title



Anna Morton1, Simon Higgins2, Eric Hall, FACSM1, Svetlana Nepocatych1. 1Elon University, Elon, NC. 2University of North Carolina at Chapel Hll, Chapel Hill, NC.

BACKGROUND: Literature suggests that weight gain is associated with increased lifetime risk of obesity and heart disease. Characteristics of the family environment, such as how often the family eats per day, whether those meals are home cooked, and family food choices play a significant role in the development of eating habits. Thus, the purpose of the study was to establish the association between characteristics of the family environment, eating habits, and cardiovascular disease risk factors during youth. METHODS: 23 high school seniors (65% females), 17.9±0.4 years of age, height of 174.3±5.9 cm, weight of 76.4±8.9 kg and body mass index (BMI) 25.1±2.6 kg/m2, with no history of eating disorders were recruited for this cross-sectional study. Family dietary environment was assessed using modified Family Eating and Activity Habits Questionnaire (FEAHQ) with lower score indicating better family dietary environment. Dietary intake was assessed using automated self-administered 24-hour (ASA24) dietary assessment tool and Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2015) score was calculated. In addition, levels of glucose, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) were assessed. Pearson Correlations were used to evaluate the associations between the variables. RESULTS: The modified FEAHQ score was negatively correlated with HEI score (r = -0.46, p = 0.03), consumption of whole grains (r = -0.46, p = 0.03), non-citrus fruits (r = -0.43, p = 0.04), and legumes (r = -0.49, p = 0.02). In addition, FEAHQ score was positively correlated with total cholesterol (r = 0.45, p=0.03), but not glucose (r = -0.30, p = 0.17), HDL (r = 0.22, p = 0.32), or LDL (r = 0.25, p = 0.26). Lastly, there was no significant correlation between the FEAHQ score to the total calories (r = -0.20, p = 0.37), carbohydrates (r = -0.17, p = 0.44), protein (r = -0.29, p = 0.18), and fats (r = -0.19, p = 0.39). DISCUSSION: In conclusion, family units with a better dietary environment eat better overall, consume more non-citrus fruits, whole grains, legumes, fiber and have lower total cholesterol levels. While more longitudinal research needs to be done, creating a better dietary environment at home may lead to better dietary habits and overall health. FUNDING: Funding for this project was provided by the National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R15HL159650.

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