Snacks contribute nearly one-quarter of children's daily energy intake in the USA. Snack time therefore represents an opportunity for parents to provide foods with key nutrients. Instead, the most common snack foods are major contributors to children's consumption of added sugars and sodium. Parents face major barriers to providing healthier snacks, including perceptions of high cost and lack of child acceptance. We obtained both economic and qualitative data to inform and optimize interventions for parents to promote vegetable snacks for children. We conducted a survey with parents (n = 368) to estimate how much of a discount would influence vegetable snack purchases by estimating willingness-to-pay using the contingent valuation method, using baby-cut carrots as a sample product. We conducted three focus groups (n = 19) and 1 group interview (n = 2) with children to help understand how to increase the appeal of vegetable snacks. Most (70%) parents accepted the reference price for the vegetable snack. Among those who did not, contingent valuation analysis revealed that a mean discount of approximately 30% would shift consumers to purchasing the snack. Focus group results revealed that the appeal of vegetable snacks to children was influenced by how they were prepared and presented, and the child's familiarity with the vegetables and ability to choose among them. This study lays the groundwork for effective interventions to promote the provision of vegetable snacks by parents.
Keywords: Child nutrition; Focus group; Parent intervention; Snacks; Willingness-to-pay.
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