Food Deserts and Eating Habits of Children Participating in the WIC Program

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Jewell, Kassi Kae
WIC; Food desert; Fruit; Vegetables; Whole Grains
thesis / dissertation description
The USDA?s ?My Plate? recommends that preschool-aged children consume specific amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods contain essential nutrients that children and adults alike require to maintain good health. Researchers have shown, however, that a significant number of children do not consume the recommended amounts of these foods, specifically vegetables and whole grains. Investigators have become increasingly interested in food deserts and whether living in these areas results in lower consumption of healthy foods. Food deserts by definition are areas where inhabitants have limited access to nutritious food. This study investigated the fruit, vegetable and whole grain consumption levels for preschool age children living in food desert or non-food desert areas. The NATFAN (National Food and Nutrition Questionnaire) survey of WIC participants was compared to the USDA?s food desert location data in order to learn the impact of living in a food desert. Using IBM SPSS to test the hypothesis, separate two-sample t-tests were conducted to determine if the mean difference between frequencies of fruit, vegetable, and whole grain consumption equaled zero. The data showed no difference in consumption of fruits and vegetables between food desert residing children and their non-food desert counterparts. There was, however, a difference in means for the consumption of whole grains. Specifically, food desert residing participants were consuming less brown rice. Using consumption amounts estimated from frequency data, it was discovered that, overall, WIC participants were under consuming fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.