Home Food Preparation Research

home food prep research at work

Led by Senbagam Virudachalam, MD, MSHP, a CHOP CPCE and Policy Lab core faculty member and instructor of Pediatrics at both CHOP and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, this line of research focuses on understanding and improving home food preparation practices in families with young children. Through this work, we aim to inform dialogue, practice, and policy to help ensure that all children have access to a stable home food environment, enabling them to grow into healthy adults. We also seek a better understanding of how best to promote positive health behaviors, in both community and home-based settings.

A recent study we published in Public Health Nutrition found that home dinner preparation habits varied substantially with socio-economic status and race/ethnicity. These associations will help to inform the design and appropriate tailoring of interventions to improve home food preparation practices and promote healthy eating.

What’s Next:
CPCE researchers have the following active research projects underway:

  • Cooking With Friends – Researchers are developing a peer-mentored intervention to improve home food prep practices among Early Head Start families.
  • Crafting a Recipe for Early Childhood Health – Researchers are ascertaining parental preferences for a home food prep intervention.
  • Grow2Gether – Researchers are conducting a pilot study of mothers using a Facebook group intervention to prevent childhood obesity from infancy.
  • Implementing a Food Insecurity Tool – Researchers are using the Electronic Medical Record to implement a food insecurity tool to help target intervention and prevention efforts for low-income families.

Funding: US Department of Health and Human Services, Edna G. Kynett Foundation, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Healthy Weight Program

Please contact Senbagam Virudachalam, MD, MSHP, CHOP CPCE/Policy Lab core faculty member and  instructor of Pediatrics at both CHOP and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, for more information about this line of research. 


Home Food Preparation Published Research

Virudachalam S, Long JA, Harhay MO, Polsky DE, Feudtner C. Prevalence and patterns of cooking dinner at home in the USA: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Public Health Nutrition. 2014 May; 17(5):1022-30. PMID: 24107577.

Virudachalam S, Chung PJ, Faerber JA, Pian TM, Feudtner C. Crafting a recipe for Early Childhood Health: Ascertaining Parental Preferences for a Home Food Preparation Intervention. Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting. 2014 May.

Virudachalam S, Wright CS, Pian TM, Faerber JA, Feudtner C. Cooking with Friends: A Peer Mentored Intervention to Improve Home Food Preparation Practices among Early Head Start Families. Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting. 2014 May.

Gruve RS, Virudachalam S, Gerdes M, Shults J, Suh AW, Bishop CT, Kalra GK, Magge SN, DeRusso PA, Power TJ, Berkowitz RI, Fiks AG. Early Childhood Obesity Prevention: Comparing Mothers’ and Clinicians’ Priorities. Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting. 2014 May.

Fiks AG, Gruver RS, Virudachalam S, Gerdes M, Bishop CT,. Kalra GK, Suh AW, duRivage NE, Magge SN, Shults J, DeRusso PA, Power TJ, Berkowitz RI. The Grow2Gether Pilot Study: A Facebook Group Intervention for Mothers to Prevent Obesity from Infancy. Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting. 2014 May.

Palakshappa D, Elgarten C, Virudachalam S, Grundmeier R, Bell LM, Massey J, Biggs L, Dzeidic S, Tuttle A, Ramos M, Khan S. Implementing a Food Insecurity Screening Tool using the Electronic Medical Record. Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting. 2014 May.

Virudachalam S, Wright CS, Pian TM, Feudtner S. Designing a Peer-Mentored Community-Based Intervention to Improve Home Food Preparation Practices in Families with Young Children. Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting. 2013 May.