The Complexity of Food Provisioning Decisions by Māori Caregivers to Ensure the Happiness and Health of Their Children

Nutrients. 2019 Apr 30;11(5):994. doi: 10.3390/nu11050994.


Obesity in children is a global health concern. In New Zealand, one in three school entrant children are overweight or obese. Māori, the indigenous people, are disproportionately represented among the lowest economic group and have a disproportionately high incidence of obesity. This study explored Māori parents' and caregivers' views of the relative importance of weight to health, and the facilitators and barriers to a healthy weight in children aged 6 months to 5 years. Using a grounded qualitative method, in-depth information was collected in focus groups with mostly urban parents and other caregivers. A general inductive thematic analysis (content driven) was used. Insufficient money was an overriding food provisioning factor, but cost interacted with the lack of time, the number of people to feed, their appetites, and allergies. Other factors included ideologies about healthy food, cultural values relating to food selection, serving, and eating, nutrition literacy, availability of food, cooking skills, and lack of help. Childhood obesity was not a priority concern for participants, though they supported interventions providing education on how to grow vegetables, how to plan and cook cheaper meals. Holistic interventions to reduce the negative effects of the economic and social determinants on child health more broadly were recommended.

Keywords: Indigenous; Māori health; childhood obesity; nutrition; social determinants of health.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Caregivers*
  • Child Health / ethnology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Decision Making*
  • Diet, Healthy / ethnology*
  • Diet, Healthy / psychology*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Food Preferences / ethnology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand / ethnology
  • Pediatric Obesity / psychology
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult