The home learning environment is a potential correlate of childhood obesity and obesity-related factors . We examined relationships between the home learning environment and weight status and the home learning environment and dietary intake, in a sample of 303 preschool-aged children from Australia . We measured their height and weight, and their parents completed a questionnaire that included questions related to demographics, dietary intake, and the home learning environment . Parents reported their children's usual consumption of foods from each food group, the frequency of their discretionary food intake, and the frequency of home activities that might support cognitive stimulation . We analysed relationships using regression, adjusting for parents' education level, and household income . We found no significant associations between the home learning environment and BMI or weight category . We found a significant inverse relationship between the overall home learning environment and discretionary food intake scores, but when stratified by income, this result was significant for children from lower-income families only . Regarding specific elements of the home learning environment, we found significant inverse relationships between discretionary food intake and both reading to children, and teaching them the alphabet . While reading was significant across all income levels, teaching the alphabet was only significant in children from higher-income families . We also found significant inverse relationships between discretionary food intake and: visiting a library, teaching numbers or counting, and teaching songs, poems and nursery rhymes in lower-income families only . There was no association between the home learning environment and meeting individual dietary guidelines . This area requires further research to explore broader home environment factors that may influence these relationships . We also suggest that interventions explore the use of strategies to improve the home learning environment to determine its efficacy in improving healthy eating behaviors.
Index: Cognitive stimulation, Dietary intake, Early childhood development, Home learning environment, Obesity, Overweight