Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Nutrition Science and Dietetics

Advisor(s)

Lynn S. Brann

Keywords

children, coupon programs, farmers' market, feeding practices, vegetable consumption

Subject Categories

Medicine and Health Sciences

Abstract

Background: Children consistently consume low levels of vegetables. Research shows that adults participating in incentivized vegetable programs purchase and consume more vegetables. It is not clear if children in those households eat more vegetables.

Objective: To understand vegetable feeding practices of families with young children using farmers’ market coupon programs: current experiences, program impacts, and additional supports.

Study Design, Settings, Participants: A mixed-methods design was used, which included a demographic survey, children’s vegetable screener, and semi-structured interview. Participants were parents/caregivers (n=23) of children ages 2 to 5 years, using coupons (WIC Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program, Health Bucks) at a downtown farmers’ market in a northeastern state in summer 2017.

Measureable Outcomes/Analysis: Experiences of feeding vegetables to young children, impacts of coupon programs, and additional supports needed to increase children’s vegetable intake were examined using qualitative data analysis techniques.

Results: Participants had mixed familiarity with feeding guidelines, received feeding advice from a range of sources, and used a variety of strategies for introducing vegetables into children’s diets. Common barriers to children’s vegetable consumption include cost, time, negative influences of others, pickiness, and parent not having or cooking vegetables at home. The majority thought their child ate enough vegetables and also wanted them to eat more. Program benefits included increasing accessibility to fresh vegetables and providing supports in using vegetables. In addition to lower cost and more coupons, participants wanted greater support in feeding practices.

Conclusion: It is not clear if study participants were more motivated to purchase and serve vegetables to their children; however, having access to lower-cost, high-quality produce removed one barrier to doing so. Other individual, family, and policy barriers also need to be considered when dietetics professionals work to help increase children’s vegetable intake. These include helping parents understand typical trends in children’s taste development, helping parents overcome their own food dislikes, teaching parents about effective feeding strategies, and offering additional financial supports.

Access

Open Access

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