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Title: Traditional foods and practices of Spanish-speaking latina mothers influence the home food environment: Implications for future interventions

item EVANS, ALEXANDRA - University Of Texas
item CHOW, SHERMAN - University Of Texas
item JENNINGS, ROSE - University Of Texas
item DAVE, JAYNA - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item SCOBLICK, KATHRYN - St David'S Healthcare
item STERBA, KATHERINE - Medical University Of South Carolina
item LOYO, JENNIFER - University Of Texas

Submitted to: American Dietetic Association
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2011
Publication Date: 7/1/2011
Citation: Evans, A., Chow, S., Jennings, R., Dave, J., Scoblick, K., Sterba, K.R., Loyo, J. 2011. Traditional foods and practices of Spanish-speaking latina mothers influence the home food environment: Implications for future interventions. American Dietetic Association. 111(7):1031-1038.

Interpretive Summary: Limited information exists on Spanish-speaking Latino parents of preschool children knowledge of healthful eating, home food environment, factors that influence their child's dietary behaviors, food purchasing practices, and actions to help their child eat more healthful foods. Several focus groups were conducted in Spanish with Latino parents. In general, parents knew what foods are healthful and which are not. Cost and familiarity with foods were the two most important factors when purchasing; and role modeling, reinforcement, and creative food preparation were identified as the best ways to encourage healthful eating habits in their children. Future studies should explore the differences in beliefs and practices of more vs. less acculturated Latinos and develop and test interventions addressing it.

Technical Abstract: The goal of this study was to obtain in-depth information from low income, Spanish-speaking Latino families with young children to guide the development of culturally appropriate nutrition interventions. Focus groups were used to assess parent’s knowledge about healthful eating, the home food environment, perceived influences on children’s eating habits, food purchasing practices, and commonly used strategies to promote healthful eating among their children. The study group consisted of thirty-four Latino parents (33 women; 27 born in Mexico; 21 food-insecure) of preschool-aged children that were put in four focus group discussions conducted in Spanish by a trained moderator. The focus groups were audiotaped, transcribed, translated, and coded by independent raters. The results of the study suggest that in general, parents were very knowledgeable about healthful eating and cited both parents and school as significant factors influencing children’s eating habits; at home, most families had more traditional Mexican foods available than American foods; cost and familiarity with foods were the most influential factors affecting food purchasing; many parents had rules regarding sugar intake; and parents cited role modeling, reinforcement, and creative food preparation as ways to encourage children’s healthful eating habits. Finally, parents generated ideas on how to best assist Latino families through interventions. In conclusion, parents indicated that future interventions should be community based and teach skills to purchase and prepare meals that include low-cost and traditional Mexican ingredients, using hands-on activities. In addition, interventions could encourage and reinforce healthy food-related practices that Latino families bring from their native countries.