2007, Number 6
Influencia de los padres sobre las preferencias alimentarias en niños de dos escuelas primarias con diferente estrato económico. Estudio ESFUERSO
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ABSTRACTObjective: Programs aimed at obesity prevention among elementary school age children have failed. In the present study, we analyzed the association between parental and child food preferences and determined whether this is influenced by the parents’ gender and socio-economic status.
Material and methods: We invited 300 children from a state elementary school (SES) and 368 from a private middle class school (PMCS) to participate. A questionnaire was given to each parent to complete together with another questionnaire asking questions about their child. The questionnaire included items on consumption of specific foods. Canonical correlation coefficients (CC) were calculated to assess the association between children’s food preferences and their parents’ food preferences.
Results: Mothers from the PMCS group had lower Body Mass Index (BMIs) than mothers from the SES (24 ± 4 vs. 26 ± 4, p ‹ 0.001). Fathers and children from the PMCS group were taller and weighed more than those from the SES but their BMI’s were similar. CC indicate that mothers influence their children’s food preferences by 30%, and this association is stronger in the SES group. Preference for simple carbohydrates was observed among children without parental supervision. Regular soft drinks were preferred by children in both schools, but diet sodas were more common among PMCS. All families avoided giving their children diet soft drinks. Conclusions: Socio-economic status and gender differentially influence children’s meal preferences. Obsesity prevention programs should take into account parental food preferences as an important factor that determines obesity during childhood. We expect that our results will contribute to the design of more appropriate prevention programs.
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