Poster Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition
Poster Board Number: 54
To explore parental beliefs, influences, and practices related to their children's fruit and vegetable (F/V) intake.
Parents of 6-11 years old in FL, WV, and NJ completed a questionnaire (N=185) and 36 participated in focus groups targeting F/V.
Questionnaire completers reported eating 2 different vegetables and 2 different fruits at home 4.78±1.69SD and 5.39±1.73SD days/week, respectively. Overall, focus group parents believed that F/Vs were important for health, growth, and development, and that their children usually preferred fruits over vegetables. F/Vs commonly liked were limited to strawberries, bananas, carrots, and green beans. Spanish-speaking parents felt school lunches served adequate F/Vs, so they tended to let children eat at school often. In contrast, English-speaking parents thought school lunches served poor quality F/Vs, thus they tended to pack lunches for their children to ensure inclusion of F/Vs likely to be eaten. Now that their children are school age, parents report that F/V intake has become easier because children's taste preferences are more diverse, and some children are influenced by others who encourage F/V intake. Barriers to getting children to eat more F/V included adverse peer modeling, kids' lack of desire for F/Vs served at school, and limited F/V availability in grocery stores. Strategies for overcoming these barriers included letting children choose F/Vs, involving kids in meal preparation, allowing children to help pack F/Vs in their lunches, setting goals for F/V intake at each meal, talking with children about the nutritional value of F/V, and mixing F/V in dishes or smoothies. Other suggestions were to make children try different F/Vs by providing limited options at meals, which parents thought would help kids develop a preference for them. Lastly, parents agreed that children imitated eating behaviors and advised others to set a good example or be firm about not allowing unhealthy foods in the home that would interfere with intake of F/Vs.
Creation of self-directed materials that provide parents with information about healthfulness of school lunches and providing recommended child feeding tips to diversify children's F/V profile could help increase F/V intake among children.
United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Grant Number 2017-680001-26351
New Brunswick, New Jersey