Understanding Parental Ethnotheories and Practices About Healthy Eating: Exploring the Developmental Niche of Preschoolers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: To understand parental ethnotheories (ie, belief systems) and practices about preschoolers’ healthy eating guided by the developmental niche framework. Design: Qualitative hermeneutic phenomenology. Setting: Home. Participants: Participants were 20 parents of preschool-age children ages 3 to 5 years, recruited from a quantitative investigation. A majority of the participants were white, female, married, well educated, and working full time. Methods: Participants who completed the quantitative survey were asked to provide their contact information if they were willing to be interviewed. From the pool of participants who expressed their willingness to participate in the interviews, 20 participants were selected using a random number generator. In-person semistructured interviews were conducted until data saturation (n = 20). Thematic analysis was performed. Results: Three themes and 6 subthemes emerged: theme 1—parental ethnotheories about healthy eating included subthemes of knowledge about healthy eating, motivations to promote healthy child development through healthy eating, and sources of knowledge about healthy eating (eg, doctors, social media, government guidelines, positive family-of-origin experiences); theme 2—parental ethnotheories that supported organization of children’s physical and social settings included structured mealtime routines and food socialization influences (eg, grandparents, siblings, and childcare programs); and theme 3—parental ethnotheories that supported children’s learning about healthy eating included parent–child engagement, communication, and encouragement in food-related activities (eg, meal preparation, visiting farmer’s market, grocery shopping, gardening, cooking, baking). Conclusion: Findings advance the literature on parental practices about healthy eating. Parental ethnotheories (eg, beliefs, motivations, knowledge, and skills) matter. Developmental niche of preschoolers (ie, physical and social settings, childrearing practices, and parental ethnotheories) constitutes an interactive system in which ethnotheories serve as guides to parental practices. Fostering nutrition education and parent–child engagement, communication, and encouragement in food-related activities are recommended to promote children’s healthy eating in daily routines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-735
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Volume33
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

Fingerprint

eating behavior
food
Food
Meals
Motivation
Gardening
Communication
Interviews
Social Media
preschool age
nutrition education
Foster Home Care
Socialization
Healthy Diet
communication
Cooking
meals
Preschool Children
phenomenology
hermeneutics

Keywords

  • daily routines
  • developmental niche
  • healthy eating
  • parental ethnotheories
  • parental feeding practices
  • preschoolers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

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title = "Understanding Parental Ethnotheories and Practices About Healthy Eating: Exploring the Developmental Niche of Preschoolers",
abstract = "Purpose: To understand parental ethnotheories (ie, belief systems) and practices about preschoolers’ healthy eating guided by the developmental niche framework. Design: Qualitative hermeneutic phenomenology. Setting: Home. Participants: Participants were 20 parents of preschool-age children ages 3 to 5 years, recruited from a quantitative investigation. A majority of the participants were white, female, married, well educated, and working full time. Methods: Participants who completed the quantitative survey were asked to provide their contact information if they were willing to be interviewed. From the pool of participants who expressed their willingness to participate in the interviews, 20 participants were selected using a random number generator. In-person semistructured interviews were conducted until data saturation (n = 20). Thematic analysis was performed. Results: Three themes and 6 subthemes emerged: theme 1—parental ethnotheories about healthy eating included subthemes of knowledge about healthy eating, motivations to promote healthy child development through healthy eating, and sources of knowledge about healthy eating (eg, doctors, social media, government guidelines, positive family-of-origin experiences); theme 2—parental ethnotheories that supported organization of children’s physical and social settings included structured mealtime routines and food socialization influences (eg, grandparents, siblings, and childcare programs); and theme 3—parental ethnotheories that supported children’s learning about healthy eating included parent–child engagement, communication, and encouragement in food-related activities (eg, meal preparation, visiting farmer’s market, grocery shopping, gardening, cooking, baking). Conclusion: Findings advance the literature on parental practices about healthy eating. Parental ethnotheories (eg, beliefs, motivations, knowledge, and skills) matter. Developmental niche of preschoolers (ie, physical and social settings, childrearing practices, and parental ethnotheories) constitutes an interactive system in which ethnotheories serve as guides to parental practices. Fostering nutrition education and parent–child engagement, communication, and encouragement in food-related activities are recommended to promote children’s healthy eating in daily routines.",
keywords = "daily routines, developmental niche, healthy eating, parental ethnotheories, parental feeding practices, preschoolers",
author = "Deepa Srivastava and Julia Torquati and {de Guzman}, {Maria Rosario T.} and Dev, {Dipti A.}",
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