Fruit and vegetable intake may reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. However, many children consume less-than-recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables. Because health professionals and dietetics practitioners often work with parents to increase children's fruit and vegetable intake, assessing their opinions about the effectiveness of parenting practices is an important step in understanding how to promote fruit and vegetable intake among preschool-aged children. Using a cross-sectional design, collaborators from six countries distributed an Internet survey to health and nutrition organization members. A self-selected sample reported their perceptions of the effectiveness of 39 parenting practices intended to promote fruit and vegetable consumption in preschool-aged children from May 18, 2008, to September 16, 2008. A total of 889 participants (55% United States, 22.6% Mexico, 10.9% Australia, 4.4% Spain, 3.3% Chile, 2.2% United Kingdom, and 1.6% other countries) completed the survey. The fruit and vegetable intake-related parenting practices items were categorized into three dimensions (structure, responsiveness, and control) based on a parenting theory conceptual framework and dichotomized as effective/ineffective based on professional perceptions. The theoretically derived factor structures for effective and ineffective parenting practices were evaluated using separate confirmatory factor analyses and demonstrated acceptable fit. Fruit and vegetable intake-related parenting practices that provide external control were perceived as ineffective or counterproductive, whereas fruit and vegetable intake-related parenting practices that provided structure, nondirective control, and were responsive were perceived as effective in getting preschool-aged children to consume fruit and vegetables. Future research needs to develop and validate a parent-reported measure of these fruit and vegetable intake-related parenting practices and to empirically evaluate the effect of parental use of the parenting practices on child fruit and vegetable consumption.
Copyright 2010 American Dietetic Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.