Attitudes, practices, and concerns about child feeding and child weight status among socioeconomically diverse white, Hispanic, and African-American mothers

J Am Diet Assoc. 2004 Feb;104(2):215-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2003.11.012.


Parents play an important role in the development of their children's eating behaviors. We conducted 12 focus groups (three white, three African-American, and three Hispanic-American low-income groups; three white middle-income groups) of mothers (N=101) of 2- to less than 5-year-old children to explore maternal attitudes, concerns, and practices related to child feeding and perceptions about child weight. We identified the following major themes from responses to our standardized focus group guide: 12 groups wanted to provide good nutrition, and most wanted children to avoid eating too many sweets and processed foods; 12 groups prepared foods their children liked, accommodated specific requests, and used bribes and rewards to accomplish their feeding goals (sweets were commonly used as bribes, rewards, or pacifiers); and 11 of 12 groups believed their children were prevaricating when they said they were full and mothers encouraged them to eat more. The common use of strategies that may not promote healthful weight suggests work is needed to develop culturally and socioeconomically effective overweight prevention programs. Further study is needed to verify racial/ethnic or income differences in attitudes, practices, and concerns about child feeding and perceptions of child weight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Feeding Behavior / ethnology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Social Class
  • Whites