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Appetite. 2012 Feb;58(1):64-73. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.09.002. Epub 2011 Sep 29.

Children's food choice process in the home environment. A qualitative descriptive study.

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  • 1University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing, Fagin Hall, 418 Curie Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19104-4217, USA.


This qualitative descriptive study explored children's food choices in the home with particular attention to environmental influences. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11- to 14-year-old children (n=47) from one middle school. A data-driven content analysis using selected principles of grounded theory was performed. Children's food choices in the home emerged as a process that involved three interacting components, the child, the parent, and the food, embedded within the context of time. Children's structured activities throughout the day, week, and year provided an overall context for food choices. Parents affected children's food choices through their presence in the home, time pressure and activity prioritization, incorporation of family members' preferences, food preparation effort and skills, and financial and health concerns. Parents created food options through food purchasing and preparation and indirectly affected children's food choices by setting rules, providing information, and modeling behaviors. Children affected parents' decisions by communicating food preferences. For children, important aspects of the food itself included its availability at home and attributes related to taste, preparation, and cost. Children evaluated potential food options based on their hunger level, food preferences, time pressure and activity prioritization, food preparation effort and skills, and expected physical consequences of food.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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