Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Committee Chair

Dr. Leslie Scott

Clinical Mentor

Shenna Scott

Committee Member

Dr. Morgan Chojnacki

Committee Member

Dr. Cameron Stephenson


Background: Approximately 20% of children in the United States are obese. West Virginia and Kentucky rank in the top 10 for obesity rates in children as young as 2-4 years old. Obesity increases the risk for numerous short-term health problems and impacts long-term health, development, quality of life, and life expectancy. Research indicates that obesogenic behaviors can be addressed prior to the development of obesity or significant health problems to prevent, rather than treat. Interventions targeting caregivers of infants younger than 2-years can promote early development of healthy feeding habits that persist through the developmental stages of nutrition. Before a community can make healthy changes, an assessment is required to determine current practices and needs.

Methods: Sixty-three caregiver-infant dyads were enrolled. Demographics were obtained from infant medical records and caregiver report. Caregivers completed two surveys (Infant Feeding Styles Questionnaire, Infant Feeding Questionnaire) via telephone. Surveys assessed beliefs and practices of infant feeding, especially as they related to 5 characteristic feeding styles.

Results: Twenty-seven dyads completed study visits. At least 1/3 of the infant sample population was considered high weight-for-length (HWFL). Caregivers of HWFL infants had lower Responsive Feeding (RF) scores (p= .035), and these infants had a higher number of siblings (p= .017) and fell later in birth order (p= .012). Though not statistically significant, the rate of HWFL was at least twice as high among infants whose caregivers utilized WIC.

Discussion: This study confirmed the presence of high weight status early in life in this community. It confirmed RF association with weight status and revealed potentially high-risk groups.

Conclusion: Primary care interventions should be implemented that focus on early prevention through overall healthy feeding practices. Individual community needs may differ, and an assessment facilitates customized care and reduces “trial and error.” Community interventions should incorporate these findings and similar assessments should continue in other communities.