The home food environment is central to the development of healthy eating behaviours, but associations between the home food environment and children's food choices are not yet fully understood. The aims of this study were to explore parents' views regarding factors that influence children's food choices and parents' decision-making regarding the food they provide to their children. In-depth one-on-one interviews were conducted using a semi-structured interview schedule. Key concepts and themes were coded independently by two investigators. Participants include seventeen parents (16 mothers and 1 father) of children in their first year of formal schooling (aged 5–6 years). Five main themes emerged from the interviews: food marketing, food availability/food exposure, feeding strategies, modelling of eating and opportunities for food involvement. Parents believed that food marketing influenced their child's food preferences but differed in the ways they managed these influences. The food made available to children was also seen to influence what a child ate. Yet, although some parents believed it was the parents' role to determine what foods were made available to their child, others offered food on the basis of the child's tastes or preferences. The use of food as a reward was a feeding strategy employed by many parents. Family mealtimes were seen as an important opportunity for modelling of eating behaviour by parents. Peers were also seen to influence children's food preferences and eating behaviour. Finally, many parents believed that involving children in the preparation of food had a positive impact on children's food choices. Associations between the home food environment and children's food choices are complex and involve multiple mediators. Parents' views on the promoters and reinforcers of their decision-making regarding food and their child's food choices provide useful insights into these mediating factors. Increased understanding of these relationships is likely to enhance obesity prevention efforts.
Field of Research
111199 Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified