Location: Children's Nutrition Research CenterTitle: Parenting practices are associated with fruit and vegetable consumption in pre-school children Author
Submitted to: Public Health Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/10/2009
Publication Date: 1/1/2010
Citation: O'Connor, T.M., Hughes, S.O., Watson, K.B., Baranowski, T., Nicklas, T.A., Fisher, J.O., Beltran, A., Baranowski, J.C., Qu, H., Shewchuck, R.M. 2010. Parenting practices are associated with fruit and vegetable consumption in pre-school children. Public Health Nutrition. 13(1):91-101. Interpretive Summary: Diets that are high in fruit and vegetables have been shown to lower the risk of several chronic diseases and may help prevent overweight. However, most children do not eat the recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables. Parents are an important influence on children's fruit and vegetable consumption. There is a need to better understand which strategies parents use to promote fruit and vegetable consumption in children and how they are associated with children's actual fruit and vegetable intake. Using data collected from 755 Head Start preschool children and their parents we grouped parents into three groups based on similar use of fruit and vegetable parenting practices (strategies intended to get their 3 to 5-year-old child to eat fruit and vegetables). We evaluated the characteristics of these three groups of parents and the average fruit and vegetable consumption of the children from each group. One group of parents reported using a high proportion of all five types of fruit and vegetable parenting practices (teachable moments, practical methods, firm discipline, restriction of junk foods, and enhanced availability and accessibility of fruit and vegetables) and was therefore called "Indiscriminate Food Parenting." A second group reported low use of all five types of fruit and vegetable parenting practices and was named "Low-involved Food Parenting." A third group extensively used enhanced availability/accessibility and teachable moments' practices, but less firm discipline practices than the other two groups and was called "Non-directive Parenting." Children whose parents were Non-Directive in promoting fruit and vegetables consumed more fruit and vegetables, than children from the other two groups. Evaluating how parents use fruit and vegetable parenting practices in combination helps provide a better understanding of parental influences on children's fruit and vegetable intake.
Technical Abstract: Parents may influence children's fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption in many ways, but research has focused primarily on counterproductive parenting practices, such as restriction and pressure to eat. The present study aimed to assess the association of diverse parenting practices to promote F&V and its consumption among pre-school children. An exploratory analysis was performed on cross-sectional data from 755 Head Start pre-school children and their parents collected in 2004-5. Data included parent practices to facilitate child F&V consumption (grouped into five categories); parent-reported dietary intake of their child over 3 d; and a number of potential correlates. K-means cluster analysis assigned parents to groups with similar use of the food parenting practice categories. Stepwise linear regression analyses investigated the association of parent clusters with children's consumption of F&V, after controlling for potential confounding factors. A three-cluster solution provided the best fit (R2 = 0.62), with substantial differences in the use of parenting practices. The clusters were labelled Indiscriminate Food Parenting, Non-directive Food Parenting and Low-involved Food Parenting. Non-directive parents extensively used enhanced availability and teachable moments' practices, but less firm discipline practices than the other clusters, and were significantly associated with child F&V intake (standardized beta = 0.09, P < 0.1; final model R2 = 0.17) after controlling for confounders, including parental feeding styles. Parents use a variety of parenting practices, beyond pressuring to eat and restrictive practices, to promote F&V intake in their young child. Evaluating the use of combinations of practices may provide a better understanding of parental influences on children's F&V intake.