How African American/Black school-aged children make food-choices




Jones-Lemmons, Fallon Alexis

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The prevalence of overweight children in the United States has almost doubled from 17% to 32% in the past two decades. Children in the United States are overweight, and approximately 16-18% are considered obese. The children with the highest obesity rate come from specified racial/ethnic groups, Hispanic and African American/Black. This dissertation seeks to understand how African American school-aged children make independent food-choices. This qualitative study uses Charmaz’s rendition of Grounded Theory as the methodology. Data were collected from twenty-two children using the photo-elicitation technique developed by Wang and Buriss and semi-structured interviews. The study was able to show how children could be the experts of their own experience, contributing alongside the researcher instead of being the research subject only. The Children’s Food-Choice Model emerged from the data, with the tenets being antecedents, influential factors, and decision making through reciprocity. Food-choices occurred as the result of three major themes: (1) antecedents, which included health conditions, autonomy, and opportunities associated with food; (2) influential factors which included preferences, time, and place; and (3) decision making through reciprocity which occurred through parent-child reciprocity exchanges. The model is constantly evolving with the child. As the antecedent foundation develops, the child adapts to greater food associated roles and responsibilities. As the rules change due to greater trust established, the child is able to better handle complex decision making without the assistance of their parent.



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