Parental intentions to provide healthy diets for pre‐school children

  • Sheela Tripathee

    Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science


    The aim of this thesis was to investigate the factors that influence parental intention to provide their children with healthier diets.
    The study was conducted in three phases. First, a two-part structured literature review was carried out. The review explored the influences on family and children’s diet using an ecological model. The second part reviewed the behavioural and psychological theories employed in studies related to parental behaviour for their children. The findings identified global, social and personal factors that influenced family-food environment and children’s diet. The theory of planned behaviour was identified as the most suitable model to examine the factors influencing parental behavioural intention to provide their children with healthier diets.
    The second phase explored qualitatively the factors influencing family and children’s diet. In-depth interviews were conducted with 15 parents living in different areas within NHS Tayside. The results revealed that various social and psychological factors influence the family food environment and parents’ food choices. The findings from the first and second phases of the study informed the design of the third phase.
    The third phase used the theory of planned behaviour to investigate the influence of attitude, subjective norm, perceived behavioural control, moral norm and nutrition knowledge on parental intention to provide their children with healthier diets. Parents (n=102) from areas with level of varying social deprivation participated. The results indicated that parental intention was positively predicted by attitude and moral norm. Subjective norm, perceived behavioural control and nutrition knowledge were not significant in predicting parental intention.
    This thesis concludes that parents have positive attitudes towards providing a healthy diet for their children and they intend to do so. From the findings of this thesis it may be suggested that interventions aimed at improving children’s diet could benefit from addressing the gap between intention and behaviour, perhaps through addressing the cost of healthier foods, sociocultural food practices and work-life balance policies.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRuth Freeman (Supervisor) & Stephanie Chambers (Supervisor)


    • Children
    • Diet
    • Family
    • Theory of planned behavior
    • Parental intention

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