Children’s executive functions (EFs) emerge over time and can be shaped by household environments and dietary intake. However, there is a lack of knowledge about how these factors influence EFs in children aged 18–24 months. This study tested a model exploring the relations between parent-reported dietary intake, household chaos, and child EF. The sample consisted of 294 families participating in the STRONG Kids2 birth cohort study of nutrition and child health. Caregivers completed the Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ), the Confusion, Hubbub, and Order Scale (CHAOS), and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function®-Preschool Version (BRIEF-P) to assess model variables. Regression analyses revealed a significant and independent association between assorted snacks and processed foods and two EF subscales. There were also significant associations between household chaos and each EF subscale. There was no significant moderation effect. These findings suggest that family households characterized by dysregulation are associated with children’s EF difficulties during early childhood and that the role of unhealthy dietary intake in child EF should be explored further. Future longitudinal studies that include multi-method approaches are needed to document the mechanisms through which household chaos impacts child EF over time.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4442
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 12 2021


  • dietary intake
  • executive function
  • household chaos
  • young children
  • parenting
  • STRONG Kids2
  • Parenting
  • Executive function
  • Young children
  • Household chaos
  • Dietary intake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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