Background: Vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet because they help prevent several chronic diseases. Mothers of preschoolers reported difficulty getting their young children to eat vegetables, and many did not know how to cook child-pleasing recipes.
Objective: The cooking habits of mothers of preschoolers, their perceptions of recipes designed for their children, and the involvement of their children in food preparation were assessed to inform a food parenting video game called Mommio.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey design was used. Eligibility criteria included mothers of 3- to 5-year-old children who reported difficulty getting their children to eat vegetables. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire with questions about their food preparation practices. They were asked to select up to 4 of the 10 provided recipes they wanted to try and to prepare and report back on their experiences.
Results: Most (46) of the 50 recipes included in Mommio's in-game recipe box were evaluated at least once and some up to 5 times with a total of 85 evaluations. This well-educated, mostly employed, sample of 27 mothers of preschoolers preferred simple, quick recipes. They ate primarily at home, made dinners from scratch, and indicated that the 46 recipes were generally simple, quick, and easy to prepare. Involvement in preparation enhanced their child's acceptance of the food. Prior food and preparation preferences influenced the children's acceptance of the dish at the ensuing meal.
Conclusions: The high rate of home recipe preparation indicated that including a recipe selection and preparation component in a food parenting video game could be attractive and may enhance effectiveness. Mothers reported that the recipes provided were generally easy to prepare, tasted good, and the instructions were easy to understand, suggesting they could be helpful to the mothers when playing a vegetable parenting game. Some mothers reported that involving their children in recipe preparation influenced their children's willingness to eat the vegetables. The highest rated recipes are being included in the game, and mothers will be encouraged to involve their children in recipe preparation.
Keywords: child; cooking; parenting; preschool; vegetables; video game.
©Maciel Ugalde, Leah Brand, Alicia Beltran, Hafza Dadabhoy, Tzu-An Chen, Teresia M O'Connor, Sheryl O Hughes, Tom Baranowski, Richard Buday, Theresa A Nicklas, Janice Baranowski. Originally published in JMIR Serious Games (http://games.jmir.org), 17.10.2017.