The Environmental Barriers to Healthy Eating and Physical Activity among Caregivers of Obese Children Living in New York City Public Housing

The United States is in the midst of a childhood obesity epidemic. However, there is a dearth of literature on the health outcomes of children living in public housing developments and specifically children from racial and ethnic minorities. Thus, this study aimed to assess family and community-level factors contributing to childhood obesity among a sample of racial and ethnic minority low-income families residing in public housing. We interviewed a sample (n = 15) of predominantly racial/ethnic minority low-income housing residents in New York City (NYC) who were caring for an obese/overweight child at the time of the study. The urban setting of New York City offered a unique lens to the issue of childhood obesity and its complex causes. The results from this study indicated that the costs of living in gentrified neighborhoods, proximity to supermarkets, unmaintained play areas, and high-crime posed barriers to caregivers attempting to provide children with a health-promoting environment in public housing. These findings add to the growing literature on childhood obesity disparities and can potentially lend themselves to future research and the development of tailored interventions.

Frequency and Type of Food Messages on Television

Objectives: The objective of this research was to document the frequency and type of food messages embedded in programming and commercials on primetime and special interest channels. Methods: Seventy-two hours of primetime television, Black Entertainment Television (BET), and Cartoon Network were recorded over a three-week period. Food messages were coded as “healthy” or “unhealthy” and by type of social norm messaging. Ninety-four different types of social norm messages were found. Results: There were 3,784 “unhealthy” and 1,175 “healthy” messages. Messages targeting youth more often observed non-nutrient dense food presented as being fun, consumption of excessive portion sizes and normal weight individuals eating non-nutrient dense foods than was observed in messages targeting adults. Overweight individuals in negative/funny situations were eight times as often observed on Cartoon Network and BET as on primetime television. Children may be exposed to almost twice the amount of “unhealthy” food messages per hour of television viewing than adults (88 per hour versus 45 per hour, respectively). Conclusions: Overall, most social norm messages associated with food seen on television promoted eating behaviors and attitudes that may be associated with the development of obesity.

Social Media Use as a Predictor of Personality

As social media use proliferates, the goal of this study is to examine the relationship between social media use and personality. Specifically, the study seeks to determine whether a link exists between social media use and distinct facets of personality, such as social anxiety. Data were collected through the administration of an anonymous online questionnaire to students at a Canadian university. Contrary to previous research findings, social media use was not significantly correlated to social anxiety or extraversion among this sample of university students. However, social media use and social engagement were positively correlated. This study, which has both educational and practical implications, will be of interest to those who work in the area of mental health, particularly those who work with younger populations who are the biggest consumers of social media.