Healthy eating for rural low-income toddlers: caregivers' perceptions

J Community Health Nurs. 2001 Summer;18(2):93-106. doi: 10.1207/S15327655JCHN1802_03.


Caregivers exert a powerful influence on young children's eating habits. This qualitative study used focus groups to assess nutritional needs and barriers in establishing healthy eating habits in toddlers. Three focus groups were conducted with rural, low-income caregivers, 2 with men and 1 with women, in 3 rural Michigan counties. Four major themes emerged: (a) barriers to providing healthy meals, (b) division of responsibility, (c) mealtime behavior, and (d) desired nutrition education. The major barriers identified were work schedules; cost of food; inadequate time to shop, plan, and prepare nutritious meals; or a combination thereof. Caregivers expressed concern for the nutritional well-being of their toddlers. The perceived needs and perceptions of low-income caregivers need to be considered when providing nutrition education. Findings from this study provided the basis for developing a nutrition education intervention for low-income parents of young children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Caregivers / education*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Child Nutrition Sciences / education*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Michigan
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment / organization & administration*
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Poverty* / psychology
  • Rural Health*