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Appetite. 2003 Aug;41(1):69-77.

Parental nutrition knowledge and nutrient intake in an atherosclerosis prevention project: the impact of child-targeted nutrition counselling.

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The Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.


Most of the counselling in health care targeted at child nutrition is delivered via the parents, but little is known about the effects of such counselling on the nutrition knowledge and dietary habits of the parents. In the Special Turku Coronary Risk Factor Intervention Project for Children (STRIP), we studied how 6.5 years of child-targeted nutrition counselling affected the knowledge, attitudes and dietary habits of the parent mainly responsible for food purchase and preparation. We used a questionnaire and a 24-h recall interview in a time-restricted cohort of 98 families belonging to the intervention group and 89 families belonging to the control group in the STRIP project. After controlling for background variables, the intervention parents had better knowledge than the control parents of causal relationships between food choices and coronary heart disease and of the nutritional composition of foods. Knowledge of nutrition concepts did not differ between the two groups. The quality of fat was better in the diet of the intervention parents, they consumed less salt and they also had more knowledge concerning these subjects compared to the control parents (higher behavioural capability scores). The behavioural capability scores of the total group correlated poorly with their nutrient intakes. Thus, child-targeted nutrition intervention delivered to the parents increased parental nutrition knowledge and improved the quality of the parents' diet. However, as nutrition knowledge of the parents correlated poorly with their nutrient intakes, other factors than knowledge appear to influence parental dietary decisions.

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