How Minority Parents Could Help Children Develop Healthy Eating Behaviors: Parent and Child Perspectives

Nutrients. 2020 Dec 18;12(12):3879. doi: 10.3390/nu12123879.


Minority children and children living in under-resourced households are at the greatest risk for obesity and diet-related disparities. Identifying effective strategies to reduce these risks is an important step in child obesity prevention. Parents influence the home environment and play a critical role in child obesity prevention. Eighteen parent-child dyads living in under-resourced Houston area communities participated in a mixed methods study (online surveys, telephone interviews). The purpose of the research reported here was to conduct a secondary analysis of the qualitative data to explore Black/African American and Hispanic parent and child perspectives of the ways in which parents could help their children make healthy food choices. Descriptive statistics were calculated for parent and child demographic characteristics; hybrid thematic analysis was used to code and analyze the interview transcripts. Frequencies were calculated for children's interview responses to rating scales and the grade they gave their eating habits. Mothers' responses were grouped into two broad categories: facilitators (modeling, availability, and teaching) as ways parents could help their child eat healthy, and barriers (lack of time, cost of healthy foods, and lack of knowledge) to helping their child eat healthy. Alternatively, child responses focused on ways in which parents could provide support: environmental support (home availability, home cooking, and introducing new foods) and personal support (providing child choice, teaching, and encouragement). Most children reported that eating healthy was easy, and most rated their personal eating habits as an A or B. These findings suggest that understanding the perspectives of Black/African American and Hispanic parent-child dyads can provide insight into the development of culturally and economically relevant healthy eating strategies and interventions for families living in under-resourced communities.

Keywords: Black/African American; Hispanic; children; diet; minority; nutrition promotion; obesity; parents; prevention; qualitative.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • African Americans*
  • Blacks*
  • Child
  • Diet, Healthy / ethnology*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Food Preferences
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups
  • Mothers*
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Texas