The impact of health-promoting behaviors on low-income children's health: a risk and resilience perspective

Yoo, J.; Slack, K. S.; Holl, J. L.

Health Soc Work. 2010 May 29; 35(2):133-43


This study's objective was to examine whether five child health-promoting behaviors by caregivers would be associated with caregivers' assessments of their children's health as "excellent," controlling for an array of risk factors for adverse health outcomes. The study used the third and fourth waves of the Illinois Families Study--Child Well-being Supplement--a four-year panel study examining the impact of welfare reform on the well-being of the youngest children of current and former welfare recipients. Logistic regression techniques were used. The analytic results show that low-income children whose caregivers exercise child health-promoting behaviors (for example, mealtime routines, dental hygiene practices, safety practices), with the exception of having a regular bedtime, are more likely to be reported as having excellent health than their low-income counterparts. Moreover, a statistically significant cumulative effect above and beyond the individual effects of health-promoting behaviors was found. The findings suggest that child health-promoting behaviors by caregivers can make a difference in promoting better health for low-income children. Although large systemic changes (for example, changes in health care policy) are needed to reduce overall health disparities and to enhance health for all members of society, individual health-promoting behaviors may lead to incremental improvements in low-income children's health.

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