An Obesity Risk Assessment Tool for Young Children: Validity with BMI and Nutrient Values

Marilyn S Townsend, Mical K. Shilts, Dennis M. Styne, Christiana Drake, Louise Lanoue, Lenna Ontai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: Demonstrate validity and reliability for an obesity risk assessment tool for young children targeting families’ modifiable home environments. Design: Longitudinal design with data collected over 100 weeks. Setting: Head Start and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. Participants: Parent–child pairs (n = 133) provided food behavior assessments; 3 child-modified, 24-hour dietary recalls; 3 ≥ 36-hour activity logs; and measured heights and weights. Main Outcome Measure: Five measures of validity and 5 of reliability. Results: Validity was excellent for the assessment tool, named Healthy Kids, demonstrating an inverse relationship with child body mass index percentile-for-age (P =.02). Scales were significantly related to hypothesized variables (P ≤.05): fruit or vegetable cup equivalents; folate; vitamins A, C, and D; β-carotene; calcium; fiber; sugar; screen, sleep, and physical activity minutes; and parent behaviors. Measures of reliability were acceptable. Conclusions and Implications: Overall, children with higher Healthy Kids scores had a more healthful profile as well as lower body mass index percentiles-for-age 1.5 years later. Healthy Kids has potential for use by nutrition professionals as a screening tool to identify young children most at risk for excess weight gain, as an evaluation to assess intervention impact, and as a counseling tool to tailor intervention efforts. Future research should include validation in other settings and with other populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • evaluation
  • obesity
  • overweight
  • preschool
  • risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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