Feeding practices and styles used by a diverse sample of low-income parents of preschool-age children

J Nutr Educ Behav. Jul-Aug 2010;42(4):242-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2009.06.002. Epub 2010 Mar 15.


Objective: To describe the feeding practices and styles used by a diverse sample of low-income parents of preschool-age children.

Design: Thirty- to 60-minute meetings involving a semistructured interview and 2 questionnaires administered by the interviewer.

Setting: Low-income communities in Philadelphia, PA.

Participants: Thirty-two parents of 2- to 6-year-old children.

Phenomena of interest: The feeding practices and styles of low-income parents of preschoolers.

Analysis: Qualitative interviews analyzed iteratively following a thematic approach; quantitative data analyzed using nonparametric and chi-square tests.

Results: Qualitative analyses revealed parents used a myriad of feeding practices to accomplish child-feeding goals. Racial/ethnic differences were seen; East Asian parents used more child-focused decision-making processes, whereas black parents used more parent-focused decision-making processes. Quantitative analyses substantiated racial/ethnic differences; black parents placed significantly higher demands on children for the amounts (H = 5.89, 2 df, P = .05; Kruskal-Wallis) and types (H = 8.39, 2 df, P = .01; Kruskal-Wallis) of food eaten compared to parents of other races/ethnicities. In contrast, significantly higher proportions of East Asian parents were classified as having an indulgent feeding style compared to black parents and parents of other races/ethnicities (chi(2)[4, n = 32] = 9.29, P < .05).

Conclusions and implications: Findings provide support for tailoring nutrition education programs to meet the diverse needs of this target audience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Methods*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations / ethnology
  • Parenting / ethnology
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Philadelphia
  • Poverty*
  • Urban Population