Abstracts Summer 2008

Summer 2008, Vol. 13, No. 2
ISSN 1540 5273

Limited intake of energy, fruit, vegetables, and dairy product among children eating at public elementary schools

Daniel J. Hoffman, Cheryl Jacko, Karen Ensle Rutgers the State University of New Jersey


The objective of this study was to determine the amount of energy and macronutrient composition of foods consumed by children attending public elementary schools. We conducted an observational study using indirect methods of assessing food intake of children n the public schools of an urban area of New Jersey. The main measurements of our study were energy intake; percent of energy as fat, carbohydrates, and protein; proportion of food served and consumed; and proportion of USDA recommended daily servings that were consumed at lunch. Students t-test was used to determine differences between variables and we used SPSS for Windows version 13.0 for all analyses.

We found that the amount of energy consumed at lunch was less than 500 Kcal, and the macronutrient composition followed USDA recommendations. Limited amounts of fruits and vegetables were consumed at lunch, and children consumed approximately 35 percent of their estimated daily energy needs at lunch. In addition, less than 50 percent of any food serving, as recommended by the USDA, was consumed. Thus, we conclude that the amount of food energy children eat at schools is unlikely to promote a positive energy balance. In addition, the fact that children are consuming a small proportion of healthful foods at school suggests that improvements can be made in school lunch programs to promote the intake of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.

Since childhood overweight is of great concern in the United States and most children attend public schools, the need for increased awareness as to what children are actually eating at school is warranted. The results of our observational study suggest that there is room for improvement in terms of both encouraging and educating children to eat a variety of healthful foods and promoting the intake of healthful foods through improved school lunch programs. While it is recognized that administrative and fiscal constraints may inhibit such improvements, the future health of our nation is dependent upon having healthy children today. Full Text

Maternal reactions to children’s emotions

Qingfang Song, Cornell University, Malinda J. Colwell, Texas Tech University


Associations among maternal reactions to children’s emotional expressions, preschool children’s emotion understanding, and emotion regulation were examined (N = 24). Mothers completed a self-report measure of their reactions to their children’s emotions. Preschool children completed standard measures of emotion understanding and participated in a disappointment paradigm. The disappointment task was videotaped and later coded for children’s reactions to receiving a disappointing prize. Maternal minimization reactions were positively correlated with children’s emotion situation knowledge. The teacher-rated subscale of children’s inhibitory control was significantly correlated with maternal emotion-focused and problem-focused responses. Results are useful for advocating certain parenting practices to promote children’s emotional development. Full Text

Financial management strategies for women in divorce transition

Debra L. Craig, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Andrew O. Behnke, North Carolina State University


Although marital dissolution is characterized by economic adjustments for both spouses, women continue to be considerably more economically vulnerable in the transition to divorce than men. Extension educators are ideally positioned to provide effective financial management strategies to women facing or recovering from divorce. This article reviews the literature on marital dissolution in terms of the immediate and extended consequences of divorce for women. We also review the research of professional financial planners to identify the specific content areas in which women in divorce transition seek financial management assistance. Finally we describe five specific financial management strategies (adaptive budgeting, negotiation of the division of marital assets, management of post-dissolution debts, attention to individual retirement planning, and establishment or revision of an estate plan), that have been identified by professional financial planners to provide Extension educators with specific content suitable for interventions tailored to meet the needs of women in divorce transition. Full Text

Shared book reading as a context for meaningful father-child interaction

Stephen Green, Russell Cooper, The Texas A&M University System


National surveys indicate that 60 percent of 3- to 5-year-old children are read to daily by a family member; however, very few studies have examined the role of the father in this important activity. The purpose of the present investigation was to explore fathers’ perceptions of the benefits of shared book reading for themselves and their children, and to examine how shared book reading can influence the nature of father-child interactions. Two-hundred and nine fathers of preschool and early elementary school-age children who participated in a four-week reading campaign targeting fathers completed written surveys. An analysis of fathers’ written responses revealed five distinct benefits that fathers perceived to be associated with daily shared book reading with their children. Overall, findings support the idea that shared book reading between fathers and children creates a favorable context for relationship growth.  Full Text

Small Steps to Health and Wealth™: Available resources and potential economic impacts

Barbara O’Neill, Karen Ensle, Rutgers Cooperative Extension


This article describes components of Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ (SSHW) program and its potential to demonstrate a high cost-benefit ratio and return on investment. SSHW encourages participants to make positive behavior changes to simultaneously improve their health and personal finances. The target audience for SSHW and its associated research is adults ages 25 to 65. SSHW, which is being replicated in more than a dozen states, includes various components including a Web site, a 132-page workbook, a six-week team Challenge competition, PowerPoint presentations for consumers, and an on-line registration and impact evaluation system. Economic analyses of potential SSHW impacts are illustrated using cost-benefit and return on investment (ROI) analyses.  Full Text

See the future: Extension’s role in vision education for older adults in the community

Jeanne D. Brandt, Carolyn Raab, Oregon State University Extension Service


Good vision is essential for personal safety and well-being. By providing vision education,Extension can play a role in helping community members understand the normal changes related to aging, what common disorders to watch for, and what to do to maintain and protect their vision.

See the Future: Your Vision as You Age, an Extension-developed program, was offered as a statewide Family and Community Education (FCE) program. To date, 276 participants have completed evaluation surveys following the program. On a scale from “none” to “very good,” participants reported significant increases (p=.000) in their understanding of how age affects vision, signs and symptoms of common vision disorders in later life, and what to do to protect eyes and vision. Fifty-five percent indicated that they planned to take action after the program including seeking vision care from a professional (17 percent).  Full Text



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