Paper Type

Master's Thesis


Brooks College of Health

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition & Dietetics

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Nutrition & Dietetics

First Advisor

Dr. Corinne Labyak

Second Advisor

Dr. Claudia Sealey-Potts

Third Advisor

Dr. Andrea Arikawa

Department Chair

Dr. Lauri Wright

College Dean

Dr. Curt Lox



Background: Recent literature suggests preschool children regardless of income, age, ethnicity, and gender are subject to future cardiometabolic risk. Dietary intake, when analyzed can indicate diversity and lack of meeting adequate nutrient standards. A combination of anthropometric and blood analysis with dietary intake assessment can provide practitioners the knowledge for adequate early nutrition intervention and education.

Objectives: This descriptive, cross-sectional study describes the relationship between dietary intake and cardiometabolic indicators in preschool children. There is also a comparison of mean subject values and referenced national standards.

Study Sample: Four hundred seventy-one preschool children, between the ages of three and five, and parents were recruited via the Head Start program in seven different rural schools in Northeast Florida. Each parent was provided an Individual Dietary Diversity Score questionnaire. Children underwent blood sampling from a finger prick to assess lipids, glucose, hemoglobin and hematocrit. Body measurements including height, weight, waist circumference, sagittal abdominal diameter, and blood pressure were taken.

Statistical Analysis: Variables of interest were uploaded into SPSS software for quantitative analysis. Means and standard deviations were calculated for the continuous variables and frequencies and percent were calculated for the categorical variables. One-way analysis of variance was used to assess the relationship between the cardiometabolic variables as dependent variables and the dichotomous explanatory variables. One-sample t-tests were used to compare the mean values of the cardiometabolic variables with national standards by age and gender.

Results: Of the 471 subjects, 86 assessed via one-way ANOVA showed that lower diversity scores were significantly associated with lower blood triglycerides and higher hemoglobin (n = 137) and hematocrit % (n = 65) levels. Higher 100% fruit juice consumption was significantly associated with lower triglyceride levels. A higher intake of fresh vegetables was significantly associated with lower waist circumference and lower sagittal abdominal diameter. A higher soda consumption was significantly associated with greater waist circumference, greater sagittal abdominal diameter and higher triglyceride levels. When the cardiometabolic parameters in the study sample were compared with national standards, it was found that the height of study subjects was shorter (cm) than national standards for males and females. Waist circumference of 4 and 5-year-old males was smaller (cm) than national standards, BMI of 4-year-old females was lower than national standards, blood pressure in both male and female subject age groups was higher (mmHg) than national standards, and hematocrit % in both males and females was a higher percentage than national standards.

Conclusion: This study does support the belief that a diet with a higher intake of fresh vegetables, fruits and 100% fruit juice and a lower consumption of sugary beverages such as soda promotes a decrease in body composition, specifically measurements of adiposity around the abdominal area. Lowering abdominal adiposity decreases cardiometabolic risk.