Food preparation supplies predict children's family meal and home-prepared dinner consumption in low-income households

Bradley M Appelhans, Molly E Waring, Kristin L Schneider, Sherry L Pagoto
Appetite 2014, 76: 1-8
Frequent family meals and home food preparation are considered important for children's nutritional health and weight maintenance. This cross-sectional study tested whether these parent-driven behaviors are related to the availability of food preparation supplies in low-income urban households. Caregivers of children ages 6-13 provided information on family meal frequency, child consumption of home-prepared dinners, household food insecurity, and attitudes towards cooking. Researchers used a newly developed Food Preparation Checklist (FPC) to assess the availability of 41 food preparation supplies during a physical audit of the home environment. Caregivers and children provided anthropometric measurements and jointly reported on child dietary intake. In ordinal logistic regression models, greater home availability of food preparation supplies was associated with more frequent family meals and child consumption of home-prepared dinners. Associations were independent of household financial strain, food insecurity, caregiver attitudes toward cooking, and sociodemographic characteristics. Fewer food preparation supplies were available in households characterized by greater food insecurity, lower income, and negative caregiver attitudes towards cooking, but did not differ by child or caregiver weight status. As in prior studies, more frequent family meals and consumption of home-prepared dinners were associated with healthier child dietary intake in several areas. We conclude that food preparation supplies are often limited in the most socioeconomically disadvantaged households, and their availability is related to the frequency with which children consume family meals and home-prepared dinners. The potential role of food preparation supplies as contributors to socioeconomic disparities in child nutritional health and obesity deserves further study.

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