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Role of parental beliefs and practices in promoting young children's healthy eating: A mixed methods study

Deepa Srivastava, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

The purpose of this explanatory sequential mixed methods study was to examine beliefs and practices related to healthy eating among parents of preschool-age children. This study drew upon three complementary theoretical frameworks (e.g. Developmental Niche, Ecocultural Theory, and Health Belief Model) to specifically understand the role of parental beliefs/ethnotheories and practices that promote children’s fruit and vegetable consumption in their daily routines. Participants included 188 parents of preschool-age children recruited from 15 childcare centers located in a Midwestern city. In the quantitative phase I, parents completed the Child Feeding Questionnaire, the Parental Modeling of Eating Behaviors Scale, home meal preparation questions from the F-EAT Survey, and reported on their children’s fruit and vegetable consumption. Quantitative results indicated that parent monitoring and parent behavioral role modeling were positively associated with children’s vegetable consumption, whereas parent restriction was negatively associated with children’s vegetable consumption. Path analyses indicated that parent behavioral role modeling did not mediate the association between parent monitoring/parent restriction and children’s vegetable consumption. However, the interaction between parent monitoring and parent behavioral role modeling was positive and statistically significant, indicating that parent behavioral role modeling strengthens the association between parent monitoring and children’s vegetable consumption. Twenty parents from the quantitative phase I participated in the qualitative phase II semi-structured interview to understand parental ethnotheories and practices about children’s healthy eating. Six themes emerged from the qualitative data analysis: “all around” healthy child development; meaning of healthy eating; parents’ monitoring and restriction attitude; parents’ motivation; parents’ sources of nutritional knowledge; and parents’ role modeling practices in everyday routines. Mixed methods results indicated that parent monitoring and parent behavioral role modeling were positively associated to children’s vegetable consumption. There was partial support from the qualitative findings regarding the association between parent restriction and children’s vegetable consumption. Overall, results indicated parents’ encouraging role in promoting children’s healthy eating. By identifying parenting predictors that are associated with preschool-age children’s vegetable consumption, this study has implications for practitioners and researchers with an understanding of how specific parental beliefs/ethnotheories and practices potentially facilitate and constrain children’s vegetable consumption in their daily routines.^

Subject Area

Cultural anthropology|Nutrition|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Srivastava, Deepa, "Role of parental beliefs and practices in promoting young children's healthy eating: A mixed methods study" (2016). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI10240109.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI10240109

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