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ABSTRACT: The prevalence of obesity is increasing in today’s preschool children, particularly in white, female children from families of the upper and upper-middle socioeconomic classes. Because obesity in preschool children in often difficult to identify, the prevalence of obesity in preschool children has gone unnoticed and thus, very few indepth studies have been conducted in this age group. This study was designed to investigate the contribution of visual food cues and the calorie content of food choices toward the development of childhood obesity. These factors were investigated in 102 five-year-old, white females from families of upper-middle and upper socioeconomic classes. The girls were taken from their preschool class, one at a time and asked to visually inspect the selection of food replicas and then to choose those “foods” they would like to eat for dinner. Height, weight, and tricep and subscapular skinfold thickness was obtained from each child following the food choices. The results of correlating weight and mean skinfold thickness measurements to the variables, total number foods chosen, the total calories contained in the food chosen, and the number of foods chosen from the foods classified into high and low calorie food grouping were significant. When body weigh, height, and income variables were controlled, the correlation between the numbers of foods, chosen, the total calories contained in the foods chosen, and the mean skinfold thickness measurements remained significant (? .01 significance level). The statistical analysis indicated large standard deviation about the means which signified a high variability of the dta. Despite the limitations produced by the data, the results indicated a notable significance probability of less than .01. On the basis of these findings, it became evident that five-year-old, white, female children with greater body weights and particularly greater body fat—as signified by mean skinfold thickness measurement—can be expected to choose a greater number of food items with higher calorie content than those five-year-old, white, female children of lesser body weight and body fat (? .01 significance level). This investigation offered several avenues for expansion as well as possibilities for research concerning factors related to childhood obesity. Results indicate the potential significant contribution of nurses involved in the care or obese children and their families when the effect of visual food cues and the calories contained in available food are incorporated into patient and family teaching health care planning, and weight control. Master of Science;
Original: University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library (no longer available).