Study of the Dietary Patterns of Preschoolers and their Parents’ Knowledge, Views and Beliefs

Background: The eating habits of preschool children and their lifestyle play a key role in their healthy development. The home environment and parental eating patterns are thοught to be the most important determinants of children’s eating habits. Aim: To examine the food preferences and dietary habits of preschool children, along with the knowledge, views and beliefs of their parents about nutrition. Method: The study was conducted from October 2010 to January 2011 with 209 parents of Greek preschool children (108 girls, 101 boys) with mean age of 3.25 years. An anonymous structured questionnaire was used. Descriptive and comparative statistical techniques were used and a two-tailed p-value less than 0.05 was considered to demonstrate statistical significance. Results: The mean age of the children’s fathers was 38 years and of the mothers 35 years, and 59.8% of mothers and 56.5% of fathers had higher education. They had been informed about their children’s nutrition by a paediatrician (66%) or a paediatric nurse (21.5%). The majority of mothers (88.3%) stated that they breast fed their child for a mean duration of 2.94 months (standard deviation 1.47). Older mothers and fathers believed that breastfeeding is necessary (p=0.03, p=0.036, respectively). Parents connected the diet with certain hereditary illnesses (53.1%). Consumption of fruits (84.2%), vegetables (73.7%) and red meat (86.1%) was consistent, but the consumption of sweets (93.8%) and ready-made meals (25.8%) was also frequent. Only one in two parents (48.8%) offered fruit or vegetable juice to their children daily, even though they offered fruits between meals regularly (88.5%). The more highly educated mothers offered fresh juice to their children more often (p=0.034). Families with no obese member were more likely to respect their children’s eating preferences (p=0.008) and to prepare fresh fruit juice (p=0.01). Parents weighed their children regularly (97.6%) and assessed their height during periodic visits to a paediatrician (61.2%) but they did not keep a diet diary (76.1%). Those children that were participating in sports and those that kept a food diary had a more balanced diet (p=0.001). Conclusions: The dietary habits of Greek pre-school children have changed significantly over the last decades. In the early years of life, attributes influencing nutrition are formed based on environmental factors and especially family attitudes.

Category: Volume 51, N 3
Hits: 607 Hits
Created Date: 15-09-2012
Authors: Theodora Mantziou , Konstantinos Petsios , Constantinos Tsoumakas , Vasiliki Matziou