Parental recommendations for population level interventions to support infant and family dietary choices: A qualitative study from the Growing Up in Wales, Environments for Healthy Living (EHL) study

Authors: Khanom, A., Hill, R.A., Morgan, K., Rapport, F.L., Lyons, R.A. and Brophy, S.

Journal: BMC Public Health

Pages: 1-14

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.

eISSN: 1471-2458

DOI: 10.1186/s12889-015-1561-4


Background: Childhood obesity presents a challenge to public health. This qualitative study explored the main barriers to dietary choices faced by parents with infants, and the types of interventions and policy level recommendations they would like to see put in place, to promote a healthier food environment. Methods: 61 semi-structured interviews with prospective parents and parents of infants (61 mothers and 35 fathers) were conducted. Families were selected according to community deprivation levels using the Townsend Deprivation Index to ensure a representative sample from deprived and affluent neighbourhoods. Inductive thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Results: Parents identified triggers which led to unhealthy dietary choices such as reliance on fast food outlets due to; shift work, lack of access to personal transport, inability to cook, their own childhood dietary experiences, peer pressure and familial relationships. Parents who made healthy dietary choices reported learning cooking skills while at university, attending community cooking classes, having access to quality food provided by church and community organisations or access to Healthy Start vouchers. They called for a reduction in supermarket promotion of unhealthy food and improved access to affordable and high-quality fresh produce in the local area and in supermarkets. There was a strong message to policy makers to work with commercial companies (food manufactures) as they have resources to lower costs and target messages at a diverse population. Provision of targeted advice to fathers, minority ethnic parents, and tailored and practical advice and information on how to purchase, prepare, store and cook food was requested, along with community cookery classes and improved school cookery lessons. Conclusions: There is a need for parent directed community/population level interventions that aims to reduce socio-ecological barriers to making healthy dietary choices. Parents desired improvements in meals provided in workplaces, schools and hospitals, as well as increased access to healthy foods by increasing local healthy food outlets and reducing unhealthy, fast food outlets. Knowledge and skills could then be enhanced in line with these improvements, with confidence gained around cooking and storing food appropriately.

Source: Scopus