Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Child feeding; Obesity prevention; Infants; Toddlers; Healthcare; Health messaging

Major Advisor

Amy R Mobley, PhD, RD

Associate Advisor

Nancy Rodriguez, PhD, RD, FACSM

Associate Advisor

Michael Puglisi, PhD, RD

Associate Advisor

Jennifer Harris, PhD, MBA

Associate Advisor

Marlene Schwartz, PhD

Field of Study

Nutritional Science


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Early childhood obesity from birth to 2-years (B-24) is a growing public health concern. The current lack of consistent and comprehensive child feeding materials may contribute to barriers in childhood obesity prevention. The purpose of this study was to identify barriers preventing parents of B-24 from implementing optimal feeding and obesity prevention practices and develop evidence-based messages to overcome these barriers.

For Phase 1 and 2, one-on-one interviews were audio-taped, transcribed, and thematic analysis was conducted. Phase 1 interviews with healthcare, community-based, and education providers working with families of B-24 identified barriers faced when promoting obesity prevention. Providers reported parental practices of overfeeding, early and inappropriate initiation of solids, lack of child autonomy and self-regulation, and unbalanced diets from cultural, familial, and media influences, and lack of knowledge. Phase 2 interviews with parents of B-24 identified information needed regarding child feeding practices. Overarching themes included meal preparation, optimal intake, affordable healthy foods, child self-feeding, and food and ingredient knowledge. Low-income parents needed information on preparation skills and proper amounts whereas non-low-income parents sought information on safety concerns and transitioning to solids. Phase 3 interviews with parents of B-24 tested messages related to findings in Phase 1 and 2 to determine potential effectiveness. Interviews were recorded by note-taking, thematic analysis was conducted for qualitative data, and descriptive statistics for quantitative data. Parents reported the material as easy to understand, relevant, and feasible to implement. Future research should evaluate the impact of message implementation and outreach with parents on childhood obesity risk.