Article

Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 978-995

First online:

Parental Perceptions and Childhood Dietary Quality

  • Kristi B. AdamoAffiliated withHealthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research InstituteDepartment of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of OttawaFaculty of Health Sciences, School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa Email author 
  • , Kendra E. BrettAffiliated withHealthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research InstituteFaculty of Health Sciences, School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa

Abstract

The early years represent a critical period of growth and development of health behaviours. While optimal child growth is associated with a complex set of factors, the importance of diet quality is undeniable. The objective of this narrative review is to examine contributors to child diet quality and parental perception and how such perceptions might affect child diet quality. An extensive literature search was conducted, generating a variety of sources including research trials (randomized and non-randomized), lab-based studies, cohort studies, topical reviews, government or NGO reports and grey literature. In addition, reflection and opinion, accrued through regular interaction with families, regarding some of the potential links has also been included. Parental perception of diet quality is influenced by many different social, biological economical and psychological factors. Research suggests that diet quality of today’s children is sub-optimal and a parent’s perception of their child’s diet may not accurately reflect this reality. Various parental attitudes and perceptions/misperceptions are important to address as knowledge awareness and beliefs can impact diet quality as can parental practices, and family structure. Issues related to socioeconomics and convenience, and a child’s preferences and their peer and/or social environment are also potential factors impacting child diet quality. Knowing that parents play such an integral role in the development and maintenance of their child’s health behaviours, addressing misconceptions and unhealthy parental beliefs about diet quality may be an important area for early intervention and prevention work in childhood obesity.

Keywords

Parental perception Diet quality Healthful eating Children