Objective: This qualitative study explored low-income children's food-related attitudes and behaviors, and current weight status. Design: Two researchers conducted 14 audiotaped, 60-minute focus groups. Height and weight were measured. Setting: Libraries, homeless shelters, and a community center. Participants: Ninety-two low-income children aged 9-13 years. Phenomenon of Interest: How environmental, personal, and behavioral factors affect food choices and food-related behavior at home, in school, and at restaurants, and how these factors potentially influence weight status. Analysis: Transcripts were coded, reconciled, and analyzed for themes and subthemes. Results: At home, children's food choices were often unhealthful because of the types of food available, and some reported restricted eating styles and night eating. At school, children were largely dissatisfied with the quality of lunches provided, and some skipped the meal. Most children preferred buffets as their favorite type of restaurant, where they could eat unlimited quantities of their favorite food items. Over half of the children were overweight (19%) or obese (36%). Conclusions and Implications: Future research may examine the prevalence of night eating, meal skipping, and other irregular eating behaviors among low-income children and their long-term relationship to weight status. Increasing parents' knowledge of these behaviors, while emphasizing the importance of family mealtimes, is encouraged.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project was funded in part by the Agricultural Experiment Station of the University of Minnesota and the Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program . The authors would like to thank all the children who participated in these focus groups. They also appreciate the cooperation of the mothers.
Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
- Childhood obesity
- Eating behavior
- Food choice
- Low-income children