The present study utilized a cross-sectional design to assess whether two indicators of the community food environment, parent perceptions of the community food environment (i.e., as assessed by parent reports of access to, availability, and affordability of foods) and limited food access (via census data), were related to executive function in preschool children. Children were recruited during the 2014–2015 academic year from Head Start and community-based preschools (N
= 102) and children’s executive function ability was tested using the Head–Toes–Knees–Shoulders task. Multiple linear regression analysis was used, as well as adjusted standard errors to account for clustering at the classroom level. Parent reports of their food environment were significantly related to children’s executive function, such that children living in higher quality community food environments had better executive function. In contrast, limited food access using census data was not significantly related to executive function. The results suggest that parent reports of the community food environment in early childhood may contribute to young children’s cognitive outcomes more so than being in a limited food access area, as these data may not represent individual behaviors or capture the variability of the accessibility and affordability of healthy foods. Policy makers should consider correlations between the food environment and early executive functioning when developing new community health/wellness legislation.
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