Parents' Agreement to Purchase Healthy Snack Foods Requested by Their Children

By Carson, Diane E.; Reiboldt, Wendy | Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, Winter 2010 | Go to article overview

Parents' Agreement to Purchase Healthy Snack Foods Requested by Their Children


Carson, Diane E., Reiboldt, Wendy, Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences


Research shows that parents agree to purchase their children's food requests 45% to 65% of the time. This study examined an after-school nutrition education intervention in terms of its effects on parents' agreement to purchase healthy snack foods requested by their children. Survey data from 755 parents were analyzed. Of the 67% of parents asked to purchase a snack, 72% agreed. Overall study findings show that children's participation in a nutrition education intervention influences parental shopping behavior, thus affecting positive eating behavior in the family.

Prior to the 1970s, collegiate and community education about nutrition centered around teaching young women how to grocery shop, purchase food, and prepare meals (Amidon, Bradbury, & Drenckhahn, 1946; Collins, 1925; Gibbs, 1909; Hovey & Reynolds, 1950; Woman's Home Companion, 1941). Emphasis was placed on how to choose foods to meet nutritional adequacy and the "basic 7" (green and yellow vegetables; oranges, tomatoes, and grapefruit; potatoes and other vegetables and fruit; milk and milk products; meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dried peas and beans; bread, flour, and cereals; and butter and fortified margarine) (Amidon et al., 1946; Collins, 1925; Gibbs, 1909; Harker & Kupsinel, 1971; Hovey & Reynolds, 1950; Rose, 1930; Thurston, 1926). By the 1970s, the focus of nutrition education had changed from preventing nutrient deficiencies to preventing chronic disease (Contento, 2007; Harker & Kupsinel, 1971). Today, emphasis on nutrition education centers on development and adoption of food choices and behaviors favorable to health and well-being (Contento, 2007).

The number of overweight children is rising at an alarming rate. In comparison with National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 1971-1974, NHANES data from 2003-2004 show startling increases in overweight among children and young people 2 to 19 years old (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008). The prevalence of overweight increased from 5 % to nearly 14% among children 2-5 years of age, from 4% to nearly 19% among children 6-11 years old, and from 6% to 17.4% among adolescents 12-19 years of age (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008).

A host of factors including genetics, food preferences, family demographics, parenting beliefs and practices, television viewing, and physical activity contribute to child overweight in the United States (Amidon et al., 1946; Benton, 2004; Birch & Fisher, 1998; Falciglia, Pabst, Couch, & Goody, 2004; Gable & Lutz, 2000;

Morton, Campbell, Santich, & Worsley, 1999). People with higher incomes and more formal education tend to eat healthier (Mancino, Lin, & Ballenger, 2004), and this practice has not changed much since the 1970s. Forty years ago, Lamkin, Hielscher, and Janes (1970) reported that, overall, mothers who had completed the most education (some college or a college degree), lived in households with the highest incomes (more than $10,000 per year), and had the greatest grocery allowances ($35 or more per week) chose healthier and more nutritious foods for their family.

DEVELOPING FOOD PREFERENCES

Development of food preferences takes place as early as birth, with the newborn showing innate preferences for sweet tastes and a dislike for sour or bitter tastes (Crockett & Sims, 1995; Fox, Fryer, Lamkin, Vivian, & Eppright, 1970; Westenhoefer, 2001). Many complex variables are at play in shaping food preferences, including developmental (Crockett & Sims, 1995; Hurtsi, 1999; Westenhoefer, 2001), demographic (Crockett & Sims, 1995; Westenhoefer, 2001), socioeconomic (Crockett & Sims, 1995; Hurtsi, 1999; Zunich & Fults, 1969), cultural (Crockett & Sims, 1995), societal (Crockett & Sims, 1995; Lytle et al., 2006; Westenhoefer, 2001), behavioral (Crockett & Sims, 1995; Hurtsi, 1999; Westenhoefer, 2001), environmental (Crockett & Sims, 1995; Hill, 2002; Hurtsi, 1999), and ecological (Lytle et al. …

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