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Food Parenting Practices and Children’s Dietary Behaviors and Health Outcomes

A special issue of Nutrients (ISSN 2072-6643). This special issue belongs to the section "Nutrition and Public Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (27 February 2024) | Viewed by 6761

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Sonia Vega-López
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ 85004, USA
Interests: nutrition; Hispanic health; health equity; public health; chronic disease prevention; minority health

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Despite multiple efforts to promote healthy eating, the diet of most children and adolescents does not fully align with current dietary guidance. Parents are highly influential on their children’s dietary intake and behaviors, not only because they are key decision-makers about food availability within their household, but also due to their role as models for dietary behaviors and due to their influence through food-related parenting practices. Although it is known that food parenting practices are associated with children’s dietary intake and behaviors, less is known about how individual, family, or environmental factors influence those associations, particularly among children and adolescents from diverse ages and backgrounds. Further, the role of food parenting practices on disease risk factors and health outcomes, beyond obesity, is less studied. The purpose of this Special Issue is to highlight the current evidence regarding the role of food parenting practices on children’s and adolescents’ dietary behaviors and their downstream diet-related health outcomes through the use of qualitative, observational, and intervention research methodologies.

Prof. Dr. Sonia Vega-López
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • adolescents
  • children
  • dietary behaviors
  • food parenting practices
  • health outcomes
  • parenting interventions
  • parenting practices
  • parents
  • risk factors

Published Papers (7 papers)

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20 pages, 478 KiB  
Article
How Can We Increase the Nutrition-Related Knowledge in Children Aged 7–12 Years: Results of Focus Groups Interviews with Parents—Junior-Edu-Żywienie (JEŻ) Project
Nutrients 2024, 16(1), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu16010129 - 30 Dec 2023
Viewed by 638
Abstract
Nutrition education is a long-term process that should cover various population groups. A special focus should be placed on children, adolescents and their parents. The aim of this research was to find out the opinions of parents of primary school pupils aged 7–12 [...] Read more.
Nutrition education is a long-term process that should cover various population groups. A special focus should be placed on children, adolescents and their parents. The aim of this research was to find out the opinions of parents of primary school pupils aged 7–12 on their expectations towards school education in the areas of food and nutrition, addressed to both pupils and their parents. The research was conducted among 101 parents of primary school pupils with the use of the Focus Group Interview (FGI) method. It demonstrated that what is most needed are hands-on activities relating to basic theoretical issues. While parents see the need for nutrition education for their children, educating pupils in this area is of interest to only some of the respondents for whom nutrition aspects are quite important. All parents would like formal nutrition education at school, but at the same time, they do not want classes to take up too much of their children’s time, due to the already excessive number of school subjects. It seems appropriate to include everyone in regard to nutrition education, regardless of their declared interest in this issue. The need for consistent presentation of educational content addressed to teachers and parents is very important, so that they can, in a uniform way, shape the attitudes towards food and nutrition of children and adolescents. Full article
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15 pages, 1077 KiB  
Article
Bidirectional Associations between Parental Feeding Practices and Child Eating Behaviors in a Chinese Sample
Nutrients 2024, 16(1), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu16010044 - 22 Dec 2023
Viewed by 624
Abstract
Background: Child eating behaviors (CEBs) and parental feeding practices (PFPs) play critical roles in childhood obesity. However, the bidirectional relationships between CEBs and PFPs remain equivocal. This longitudinal study aimed to explore their bidirectional relationships. Methods: A convenience sample of 870 parents with [...] Read more.
Background: Child eating behaviors (CEBs) and parental feeding practices (PFPs) play critical roles in childhood obesity. However, the bidirectional relationships between CEBs and PFPs remain equivocal. This longitudinal study aimed to explore their bidirectional relationships. Methods: A convenience sample of 870 parents with preschoolers was recruited in this longitudinal study (Shanghai, China). Three non-responsive feeding practices (NFPs), three responsive feeding practices (RFPs), five CEBs, and covariates were collected using validated questionnaires at baseline and the 6-month follow-up. Cross-lagged analyses using structural equation modeling (SEM) were performed to examine their bidirectional relationships. Results: Eight hundred and fifty-three parents completed questionnaires, with a response rate of 98%. The mean age of their children at baseline was 4.39 years (standard deviation = 0.72 years). Eighteen out of sixty longitudinal cross-lagged paths were statistically significant. Parental encouragement of healthy eating and content-restricted feeding were found to be bidirectionally associated with child food fussiness. Four parent-driven associations and one child-driven association were identified between RFPs and CEBs. For example, monitoring was negatively associated with children’s unhealthy eating habits (β = −0.066, standard error (SE) = 0.025, p < 0.01). Eight child-driven associations and one parent-driven association were observed between NFPs and CEBs. For example, higher child satiety responsiveness predicted a higher pressure to eat (β = 0.057, SE = 0.029, p < 0.01) and the use of food as a reward (β = 0.083, SE = 0.031, p < 0.01). Conclusions: There were bidirectional, parent-driven, and child-driven associations. Parents should be encouraged to adopt RFPs to shape CEBs. Increasing parents’ understanding of CEBs and providing them with reasonable coping strategies would help optimize PFPs. Full article
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23 pages, 357 KiB  
Article
The Family Environment as a Source for Creating the Dietary Attitudes of Primary School Students—A Focus Group Interview: The Junior-Edu-Żywienie (JEŻ) Project
Nutrients 2023, 15(23), 4930; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15234930 - 26 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1068
Abstract
The family environment plays a crucial role in creating the health behaviours of children and youth. This study aimed to explore the attitudes of parents with children aged 7–12 who represent an influential environment for creating the eating behaviours of children. A qualitative [...] Read more.
The family environment plays a crucial role in creating the health behaviours of children and youth. This study aimed to explore the attitudes of parents with children aged 7–12 who represent an influential environment for creating the eating behaviours of children. A qualitative study was conducted using focus-group interviews (FGI) involving 101 parents from various socioeconomic backgrounds. Three categories of parents were identified based on their level of involvement and awareness of nutrition: ‘aware’, ‘determined’, and ‘relaxed’. Among parents of 10–12-year-old students, an additional category, ‘distanced’ parents, was identified. The study revealed that parents require support in terms of providing compelling arguments and practical recommendations related to meals and reducing or eliminating their children’s consumption of sweets, snacks, fast food, and, in the case of older students, energy drinks. Parents reported that their children had a moderate understanding of the principles of proper nutrition. The majority of respondents viewed this knowledge as primarily theoretical and expressed a need for practical guidance and activities, which they believe should be offered by schools. To achieve positive outcomes in educational activities related to food and nutrition, it is essential to involve children, parents, guardians, teachers, and other school staff in these efforts. Full article
12 pages, 307 KiB  
Article
Development of a New Questionnaire to Assess Parental Perceived Barriers When Promoting Healthy Eating Habits in Young Children: First Findings
Nutrients 2023, 15(21), 4672; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15214672 - 04 Nov 2023
Viewed by 986
Abstract
Social cognitive models suggest a crucial role played by perceived barriers in promoting healthy behaviors, including healthy eating. We aimed to develop a new questionnaire to assess parental perceived barriers to healthy feeding in young children and perform the instrument’s preliminary psychometric evaluation. [...] Read more.
Social cognitive models suggest a crucial role played by perceived barriers in promoting healthy behaviors, including healthy eating. We aimed to develop a new questionnaire to assess parental perceived barriers to healthy feeding in young children and perform the instrument’s preliminary psychometric evaluation. The initial pool of items was developed based on reviews and qualitative studies. First, we conducted an online, descriptive, cross-sectional study with 278 parents of 2–6-year-old children to examine its factorial structure and internal consistency. Then, a second study with 168 parents from a similar population assessed convergent/discriminant and known-groups validity. The exploratory factorial analysis confirmed the scale’s theoretical structure. Five scales were found: Child-Related Barriers, Parent-Related Barriers—Vegetables and Fruit, Parent-Related Barriers—Added Sugars, Social Context-Related Barriers, and Cost-Related Barriers. All scales presented adequate reliability. We found weak to moderate, negative, and significant correlations between child- and parent-related barriers regarding vegetables and fruits, feeding practices to promote children’s eating self-regulation, and food parenting self-efficacy. Additionally, parents who perceived their children as easy and well-regulated reported significantly fewer child-related barriers than parents with poorly self-regulated and inhibited children. The results support the instrument’s preliminary psychometric adequacy regarding its validity and reliability and corroborate earlier empirical studies about the main parental barriers when promoting young children’s healthy eating habits. Full article
15 pages, 1273 KiB  
Article
Diet Outcomes from a Randomized Controlled Trial Assessing a Parenting Intervention Simultaneously Targeting Healthy Eating and Substance Use Prevention among Hispanic Middle-School Adolescents
Nutrients 2023, 15(17), 3790; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15173790 - 30 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 898
Abstract
Parents play a significant role in adolescent health behaviors; however, few nutrition interventions for Hispanic adolescents involve parents. This study assessed the effects of a 10-week parenting intervention simultaneously targeting nutrition and substance use prevention. Hispanic parent/6th–8th-grade adolescent dyads (n = 239) were [...] Read more.
Parents play a significant role in adolescent health behaviors; however, few nutrition interventions for Hispanic adolescents involve parents. This study assessed the effects of a 10-week parenting intervention simultaneously targeting nutrition and substance use prevention. Hispanic parent/6th–8th-grade adolescent dyads (n = 239) were randomized to Families Preparing the New Generation Plus (FPNG+; nutrition/substance use prevention), FPNG (substance use prevention only), or Realizing the American Dream (RAD; academic success control). Surveys assessed diet, alcohol use, substance use intentions, and substance use norms at baseline (T1), immediately post-intervention (T2), and at 16 weeks post-intervention (T3). Latent change modeling assessed diet changes; adolescent substance use outcomes were assessed using effect sizes. Among adolescents, those in FPNG+ increased fruit (+0.32 cup equivalents, p = 0.022) and fiber intake (+1.06 g, p = 0.048) and did not change added sugars intake at T2; those in FPNG and RAD reduced their intake of fruit and fiber (p < 0.05 for both). FPNG+ parents marginally increased fruit/vegetable intake (+0.17 cup equivalents, p = 0.054) and increased whole grains intake (+0.25-ounce equivalents, p < 0.05), in contrast to the reduction among RAD and FPNG parents (p < 0.05). Reductions in added sugar intake at T2 were greater among FPNG and FPNG+ parents relative to RAD parents (p < 0.05). FPNG+ and FPNG had comparable substance use outcomes (i.e., both had lower alcohol use and intentions to use substances relative to RAD). Engaging parents in a nutrition and substance use prevention parenting intervention yielded positive changes in dietary intake and maintained substance use prevention outcomes among their adolescent children. Full article
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12 pages, 309 KiB  
Article
Parents’ Diet Quality and Physical Activity Are Associated with Lifestyle in Spanish Children and Adolescents: The PASOS Study
Nutrients 2023, 15(16), 3617; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15163617 - 17 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1490
Abstract
Background: Non-communicable chronic diseases are associated with a low-quality diet, low physical activity, and sedentary behavior. Objective: To assess how parents’ diet and physical activity habits were associated with their offsprings’ lifestyles. Study design: A cross-sectional analysis of 8–16-year-old children and adolescents (n [...] Read more.
Background: Non-communicable chronic diseases are associated with a low-quality diet, low physical activity, and sedentary behavior. Objective: To assess how parents’ diet and physical activity habits were associated with their offsprings’ lifestyles. Study design: A cross-sectional analysis of 8–16-year-old children and adolescents (n = 2539; 51.9% girls) was carried out within the frame of the first edition of the Physical Activity, Sedentarism, Lifestyles, and Obesity in Spanish Youth study (PASOS-2019). Data on adherence to the Mediterranean Diet (MedDiet), daily moderate–vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and screen time per day (television, computer, video games, and mobile phone) were collected from children and adolescents, and data on parents’ diet quality and physical activity were compiled. Logistic regression models were used to assess the association between parents’ lifestyles and those of children and adolescents. Results: High diet quality of parents was associated with higher adherence to the MedDiet of children and adolescents, as well as high consumption of fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, and legumes. The high physical activity level of parents was associated with the low consumption of fast foods, sweets, and candies in children and adolescents. Children with high levels of physical activity were those whose parents showed better diet quality and physical activity levels. Conclusions: Parents’ high diet quality and physical activity were associated with healthy lifestyles, higher adherence to the MedDiet, and physical activity of their offspring, mainly in adolescents. Full article

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10 pages, 255 KiB  
Brief Report
Are Caregivers’ Feeding Competence and Autonomy Associated with Healthier Restaurant Food Purchases for Their Child at Fast Food or Counter Service Restaurants? A Cross-Sectional Study in a Diverse Sample of U.S. Caregivers
Nutrients 2024, 16(4), 479; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu16040479 - 07 Feb 2024
Viewed by 467
Abstract
This study examined the cross-sectional relationship between caregivers’ perceived competence and autonomy (as defined by the Self-Determination Theory) and their fast food or counter service restaurant food purchases (side dishes, beverage, and dessert) for their child. A U.S. national convenience sample of caregivers [...] Read more.
This study examined the cross-sectional relationship between caregivers’ perceived competence and autonomy (as defined by the Self-Determination Theory) and their fast food or counter service restaurant food purchases (side dishes, beverage, and dessert) for their child. A U.S. national convenience sample of caregivers with at least one 3–12-year-old child completed an online survey with questions adapted from the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory that measured perceived competence and autonomy for feeding fruits and vegetables and limiting sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and desserts. The survey included four questions asking about their fast food or counter service restaurant food purchases (side dish, beverage, and dessert). We applied logistic and multinomial logistic regression models to examine the associations between competence or autonomy and restaurant orders. Competence and autonomy were associated with ordering fruits and vegetables as side dishes (OR [95% CI], 1.14 [1.06, 1.24] and 1.09 [1.03, 1.14], respectively). However, higher competence was also associated with ordering desserts at restaurants and higher autonomy was associated with lower odds of ordering water. These findings will inform interventions and programs that aim to support caregivers’ psychological needs, like competence and autonomy, to promote supportive environments and healthier restaurant purchases for their children. Full article
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