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Health Educ Q. 1993 Summer;20(2):243-59.

Relationship of mothers' food choice criteria to food intake of preschool children: identification of family subgroups.

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Center for Health Promotion, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY.


This study investigated the relationship between potential criteria mothers use to select foods for their children, their food knowledge, and food consumption of their children. Participants were 218 predominantly Latino mothers and their 4 to 5-year-old children. Mothers rated 17 foods in terms of 10 food attributes (how tasty specific foods were to their child, whether they were convenient to prepare, etc.). Within-person correlation coefficients were then calculated between these ratings and reported frequency of consumption of these same 17 foods. These correlations were then used in a k-means cluster analysis to identify six distinct subgroups of families, who had different orientations ranging from "high health" to "high taste." Children in the "high health" groups had diets significantly lower in calories, fat, saturated fat, and sucrose and higher in fiber and vitamin A from 24-hour dietary recalls reported by mothers. Mothers' health knowledge was also correlated with nutrient takes of children. These data indicate that families can be segmented according to the importance of beliefs about healthfulness of foods and that this segmentation predicts quality of diet of children. This study suggests that interventions should be designed to increase mothers beliefs in the importance of health in choosing foods. For those mothers whose food choices are dominated by children's tastes, interventions should be directed at how to prepare healthful foods to taste good to children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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