Diet and Behavior in At-Risk Children: Evaluation of an Early Intervention Program


  • John Worobey, Rutgers, The State University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Joan Pisuk, Middlesex County Health Department, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Kathleen Decker, University of Maryland.

*John Worobey, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-2882. E-mail:


Abstract  This study describes outcomes for children enrolled in the Prevention-Oriented System for Child Health Project, an early intervention program aimed at improving health and developmental status in at-risk families. Through a series of home visits by public health nurses, 60 families received lessons on nutrition- and health-related topics determined by the child and family's needs. On two occasions, some 8 months apart, the children were evaluated using the Developmental Assessment of Young Children, and their energy intake over the previous day was recorded. Analyses of the dietary and behavioral records indicated that the children's scores on the physical subtest improved significantly. A number of nutrition–development associations were found at follow-up, suggesting that the intervention was successful. Implications of the results for at-risk children are discussed.