Nutrition Knowledge and Patterns among Parents of Young Children in Rural Southeast Georgia

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Journal of Georgia Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance


Background: Many factors influence young children’s eating habits, including family, peers, media, and environment. However, research supports that the most influential factors on a young child’s eating habits are parents and the food environment at home. Providing accurate and appropriate education to parents who have young children may help improve food choices offered at home, leading to overall healthier lifestyle habits in both the children and parents.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore nutrition knowledge and feeding practices among parents of young children in Rural Southeast Georgia and to determine whether an educational intervention could lead to positive changes in nutrition knowledge and feeding practices.

Method: Families who had a child enrolled in an accredited child development center were recruited for this study. Families were randomly assigned to either an intervention group, which they received nutrition education for six weeks, or a control group that did not receive any nutrition education. All participants were asked to complete a knowledge test and feeding questionnaire (highlighting acceptable and unacceptable feeding practices) prior to and at the end of the study.

Results: Twenty eight families participated in the six week study. For the knowledge test, there was a significant interaction effect between group and time, Wilk’s λ = .74, F(1, 32) = 11.18, p < .01, η2 = .26. For acceptable and unacceptable nutritional practices, the analysis revealed a significant main effect of time, F(1, 32) = 6.82, p = .01, η2 = .18 and F(1, 32) = 5.93, p = .02, η2 = .16, respectively.

Discussion: This study found nutrition education can improve nutrition knowledge and feeding practices among parents of young children.

Translation to Health Education Practice: Because parents play a main role in children’s eating habits, educating them on the importance of healthy eating and appropriate feeding practices is key to improving eating habits and overall health in children.