Predicting habits of vegetable parenting practices to facilitate the design of change programmes

Public Health Nutr. 2016 Aug;19(11):1976-82. doi: 10.1017/S1368980015003432. Epub 2015 Dec 4.


Objective: Habit has been defined as the automatic performance of a usual behaviour. The present paper reports the relationships of variables from a Model of Goal Directed Behavior to four scales in regard to parents' habits when feeding their children: habit of (i) actively involving child in selection of vegetables; (ii) maintaining a positive vegetable environment; (iii) positive communications about vegetables; and (iv) controlling vegetable practices. We tested the hypothesis that the primary predictor of each habit variable would be the measure of the corresponding parenting practice.

Design: Internet survey data from a mostly female sample. Primary analyses employed regression modelling with backward deletion, controlling for demographics and parenting practices behaviour.

Setting: Houston, Texas, USA.

Subjects: Parents of 307 pre-school (3-5-year-old) children.

Results: Three of the four models accounted for about 50 % of the variance in the parenting practices habit scales. Each habit scale was primarily predicted by the corresponding parenting practices scale (suggesting validity). The habit of active child involvement in vegetable selection was also most strongly predicted by two barriers and rudimentary self-efficacy; the habit of maintaining a positive vegetable environment by one barrier; the habit of maintaining positive communications about vegetables by an emotional scale; and the habit of controlling vegetable practices by a perceived behavioural control scale.

Conclusions: The predictiveness of the psychosocial variables beyond parenting practices behaviour was modest. Discontinuing the habit of ineffective controlling parenting practices may require increasing the parent's perceived control of parenting practices, perhaps through simulated parent-child interactions.

Keywords: Emotion; Habit; Model of Goal Directed Behavior; Parenting practices; Vegetables.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Habits*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Parenting*
  • Texas
  • Vegetables*