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J Sch Nurs. 2006 Dec;22(6):345-51.

Childhood nutrition: perceptions of caretakers in a low-income urban setting.

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  • 1Widener University School of Nursing, Chester, PA, USA.


The incidence of overweight and obese children, especially those from low-income and minority backgrounds, continues to rise. Multiple factors contribute to the rising rates. In order to gain an understanding of factors contributing to obesity in low-income families, a qualitative study was conducted with the purpose of gaining knowledge of low-income urban caretakers' understanding and attitudes regarding children's nutrition. A focused ethnography was used as a means of understanding behavior within the context of a person's cultural environment. The sample was 17 caretakers of children in the 1st-3rd grades. Four focus groups were conducted. Two themes emerged from caretakers' perceptions: knowing the right things children should eat and balancing healthy nutrition with unhealthy choices. Four categories emerged regarding influences on food choices: tradition, finances, time constraints, and role models. Lastly, five barriers and three facilitating factors emerged. Implications of the study findings for school nurses include the need, when implementing healthy eating programs for school children, to gain information from caretakers about their perceptions of childhood nutrition.

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