Children's Consumption Patterns and Their Parent's Perception of a Healthy Diet

Nutrients. 2020 Aug 3;12(8):2322. doi: 10.3390/nu12082322.


This study aims to examine children's fruit, vegetable, and added sugar consumption relative to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association's recommendations, as well as to compare children's reported consumption with parental perception of the child's overall diet quality. Data were drawn from 2 independent, cross sectional panels (2009-10 and 2014-15) of the New Jersey Child Health Study. The analytical sample included 2229 households located in five New Jersey cities. Daily consumption of fruit (cups), vegetables (cups), and added sugars (teaspoons) for all children (3-18 years old) were based on parent reports. Multivariate linear regression analyses estimated children's adjusted fruit, vegetable, and added sugar consumption across parents' perception categories (Disagree; Somewhat Agree; and Strongly Agree that their child eats healthy). Although only a small proportion of children meet recommendations, the majority of parents strongly agreed that their child ate healthy. Nonetheless, significant differences, in the expected direction, were observed in vegetable and fruit consumption (but not sugar) across parental perceptional categories for most age/sex groups. Dietary interventions tailored to parents should include specific quantity and serving-size information for fruit and vegetable recommendations, based on their child's age/sex, and highlight sources of added sugar and their sugar content.

Keywords: added sugar intake; children and adolescents; dietary guidelines; fruit consumption; parental perception of the healthfulness of their child’s diet; vegetable consumption.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Food Preferences
  • Fruit
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • New Jersey
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Perception*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables