Traditional foods and practices of Spanish-speaking Latina mothers influence the home food environment: implications for future interventions

J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Jul;111(7):1031-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2011.04.007.


This study aimed to obtain in-depth information from low-income, Spanish-speaking Latino families with young children to guide the development of culturally appropriate nutrition interventions. Focus groups were used to assess parent's knowledge about healthful eating, the home food environment, perceived influences on children's eating habits, food purchasing practices, and commonly used strategies to promote healthful eating among their children. Thirty-four Latino parents (33 women; 27 born in Mexico; 21 food-insecure) of preschool-aged children participated in four focus group discussions conducted in Spanish by a trained moderator. The focus groups were audiotaped, transcribed, translated, and coded by independent raters. Results suggest that in general, parents were very knowledgeable about healthful eating and cited both parents and school as significant factors influencing children's eating habits; at home, most families had more traditional Mexican foods available than American foods; cost and familiarity with foods were the most influential factors affecting food purchasing; many parents had rules regarding sugar intake; and parents cited role modeling, reinforcement, and creative food preparation as ways to encourage children's healthful eating habits. Finally, parents generated ideas on how to best assist Latino families through interventions. Parents indicated that future interventions should be community based and teach skills to purchase and prepare meals that include low-cost and traditional Mexican ingredients, using hands-on activities. In addition, interventions could encourage and reinforce healthy food-related practices that Latino families bring from their native countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Culture*
  • Diet*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Food
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Mexico / ethnology
  • Mothers*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Social Environment*
  • Texas