Efficacy of a food parenting intervention for mothers with low income to reduce preschooler's solid fat and added sugar intakes: A randomized controlled trial

Jennifer O. Fisher, Elena L. Serrano, Gary D. Foster, Chantelle N. Hart, Adam Davey, Yasmeen P. Bruton, Linda Kilby, Lisa Harnack, Karen J. Ruth, Alexandria Kachurak, Hannah G. Lawman, Anna Martin, Heather M. Polonsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Few interventions have shown efficacy to influence key energy balance behaviors during the preschool years.

OBJECTIVE: A randomized controlled trial (RCT) was used to evaluate the efficacy of Food, Fun, and Families (FFF), a 12 week authoritative food parenting intervention for mothers with low-income levels, to reduce preschool-aged children's intake of calories from solid fat and added sugar (SoFAS).

METHODS: Mothers were randomly assigned to receive FFF (n = 59) or to a delayed treatment control (n = 60). The primary outcome was children's daily energy intake from SoFAS at the end of the 12 week intervention, controlling for baseline levels, assessed by 24-h dietary recalls. Secondary outcomes included children's daily energy intake, children's BMI z-scores, and meal observations of maternal food parenting practices targeted in FFF (e.g. providing guided choices).

RESULTS: Participating mothers were predominantly African American (91%), with 39% educated beyond high school and 66% unemployed. Baseline demographics and child SoFAS intakes did not differ by group. Lost to follow-up was 13% and did not differ between groups. At post-intervention, FFF children consumed ~ 94 kcal or 23% less daily energy from SoFAS than children in the control group, adjusting for baseline levels (307.8 (95%CI = 274.1, 341.5) kcal vs. 401.9 (95%CI = 369.8, 433.9) kcal, FFF vs. control; p < 0.001). FFF mothers also displayed a greater number of authoritative parenting practices when observed post-intervention with their child at a buffet-style meal (Wilcoxon z = - 2.54, p = 0.012). Neither child total daily energy intake nor BMI z-scores differed between groups post-intervention.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings demonstrate the initial efficacy of an authoritative food parenting intervention for families with low-income to reduce SoFAS intake in early childhood. Additional research is needed to evaluate longer-term effects on diet and growth.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Retrospectively registered at ClinicalTrials.gov : #NCT03646201.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 17 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Grant no. 2011–68001-30148 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Childhood Obesity Prevention: Integrated Research, Education and Extension to Prevent Childhood Obesity-A2101.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


  • Added sugars
  • Authoritative
  • Dietary intervention
  • Food parenting
  • Low-income
  • Preschooler
  • Prevention
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Solid fats
  • Parenting
  • Health Promotion/methods
  • Humans
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dietary Fats/administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • Young Adult
  • Child Behavior
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Food
  • Dietary Sugars/administration & dosage
  • Poverty
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Energy Intake
  • Diet

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Journal Article


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