Exploring Parent Perceptions of the Food Environment in Youth Sport

Megan Thomas, Toben F. Nelson, Eileen Harwood, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine parent perceptions of the food environment in youth sport. Methods: Eight focus group discussions were held with parents (n = 60) of youth aged 6-13 years participating in basketball programs in Minnesota. Key themes and concepts were identified via transcript-based analysis. Results: Parents reported that youth commonly consume unhealthful food and beverages during sports. According to parents, few healthful food and beverage options are available in sport settings, whereas unhealthful options are widely available. Parents were generally dissatisfied with food available in youth sport settings and wanted sport-specific nutrition knowledge. Time constraints and low availability of nutritious food at sport venues were barriers to healthful eating. Conclusions and Implications: Youth sport is a promising setting for promoting nutrition. Potential interventions may include advice about healthful eating to overcome the challenges associated with youth sport and policy changes that promote greater availability of healthful food at concessions stands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-371
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the JB Hawley Student Research Award from the Division of Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota to Megan Thomas and was completed in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Public Health Nutrition.


  • Child
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Qualitative research
  • Sports


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