Food and Behaviour Research

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Maternal feeding behaviour and young children's dietary quality: A cross-sectional study of socially disadvantaged mothers of two-year old children using the Theory of Planned Behaviour

Swanson V, Power KG, Crombie IK, Irvine L, Kiezebrink K, Wrieden W, Slane PW (2011) Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act.  2011, Jun 23 8:65. 

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Abstract:

BACKGROUND:

Having breakfast, eating food 'cooked from scratch' and eating together as a family have health and psychosocial benefits for young children. This study investigates how these parentally determined behaviours relate to children's dietary quality and uses a psychological model, the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), to investigate socio-cognitive predictors of these behaviours in socially disadvantaged mothers of young children in Scotland.

METHOD:

Three hundred mothers of children aged 2 years (from 372 invited to participate, 81% response rate), recruited via General Practitioners, took part in home-based semi-structured interviews in a cross-sectional survey of maternal psychological factors related to their children's dietary quality. Regression analyses examined statistical predictors of maternal intentions and feeding behaviours.

RESULTS:

Mothers of children with poorer quality diets were less likely than others to provide breakfast every day, cook from 'scratch' and provide 'proper sit-down meals'. TPB socio-cognitive factors (intentions, perceived behavioural control) significantly predicted these three behaviours, and attitudes, norms, and perceived behavioural control significantly predicted mothers' intentions, with medium to large effect sizes.

CONCLUSIONS:

Interventions to improve young children's dietary health could benefit from a focus on modifying maternal motivations and attitudes in attempts to improve feeding behaviours.