The October Nutrition Society Paper of the Month is from Public Health Nutrition  and is entitled “Predicting use of ineffective vegetable parenting practices with the Model of Goal Directed Behaviour”.

Many parents of pre-schoolers report difficulty in getting their child to eat vegetables. Parents use a broad variety of ways to influence what their young child eats. Some of the ways they select have the desired effect (i.e. effective vegetable parenting practices), while some do not (i.e. ineffective vegetable parenting practices). Most intervention programs have emphasized increasing parents’ use of effective parenting practices, assuming that increased use of effective practices will displace use of ineffective practices. However, these programs have not always had the desired effects. Increasing a parent’s ability to influence a child’s vegetable intake may require simultaneously reducing the parent’s use of ineffective vegetable parenting practices. The present study was designed to understand the psychosocial influences on parent’s use of ineffective vegetable parenting practices, measured using a previously developed scale.

Previous research identified variables likely related to a parent’s choice of parenting practices. A cross-sectional web-based survey was conducted to predict the use of ineffective vegetable parenting practices by parents of 3 to 5 year old children. The most strongly positively related variable was the parent’s habit of using controlling vegetable practices (i.e. minimizing the child’s volitional selection of foods). The parent’s desire to positively influence her child’s intake was also positively, but less strongly, related.

The most significantly negatively related influence was the parent’s perception of the extent to which she could control her negative parenting practices, followed by her habit of active child involvement in vegetable selection, the level of her anticipated negative emotional response to her child’s vegetable refusal, her perceived autonomy in selecting parenting practices, her belief about the possible negative effects of vegetables, and her perception of what other parents do to influence their children’s vegetable intake.

The present study is the first to predict use of parenting practices, and the first to predict the use of ineffective practices. The important predictors provide targets for change programs to minimize use of ineffective parenting practices. Two habit variables were strong predictors suggesting that future interventions need to change parenting habits. Little work has been done on minimizing use of ineffective practices or on changing habits. Innovative intervention procedures will need to be designed and tested to reduce ineffective vegetable parenting practices. In summary this research has opened new avenues for attempting to increase the effectiveness of programs to change parenting practices.

This paper is freely available for one month via the following link:

Read an interview with the author on the Nutrition Societies website:

Nutrition Society Paper of the Month

Each month a paper is selected by one of the Editors of the five Nutrition Society Publications (British Journal of Nutrition, Public Health Nutrition, Nutrition Research Reviews, Proceedings of the Nutrition Society and Journal of Nutritional Science). This paper is freely available for one month.

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