Childhood overweight (OW) and obesity (OB) are global public health concerns in urgent need of effective preventive strategies. Interventions that are family based offer potential for success in OW and OB prevention but the evidence to inform approach and content of interventions is limited. The Gateshead Millennium Study (GMS) is a longitudinal study of 1029 children born in Gateshead in 1999/2000. A wealth of data were collected on the GMS cohort when the children were aged 6–8 years to identify potentially modifiable factors for the prevention of childhood OW and OB. The aim of this study was to examine the relationships between parental food knowledge and attitudes, child food knowledge and preferences and child BMI.
Questionnaires were completed by parents which included questions from the ‘Health in England 1995’(1) survey to explore their knowledge of and attitudes to food. Responses were used to generate a score for both parental food knowledge and food attitude. Children completed the ‘Thinking about Food Questionnaire’(2) and the data collected were used to generate a score for child food knowledge and food preference. Child height and weight were measured and BMI [weight(kg)/height(m)2] calculated. Spearman's correlations were used to examine the relationships between the food knowledge, attitude and preference scores as well as their relationships to child BMI.
Data from 509 parents (mostly mothers) and their children were included in the analysis. A weak but significant positive correlation was found between parent food knowledge and parent food attitude. Both parent food knowledge and parent food attitude were associated with child food knowledge. Children's food knowledge was also associated with their reported food preference. However, no significant associations were found between any of the scores and child BMI.
a Significant at the 0.05 level. bSignificant at the 0.01 level.
Findings from this study demonstrate some positive associations between parental food knowledge and attitude and child food knowledge and reported preferences. Further work, however, is required to explore the relationship between children's reported food preferences and their actual food choice and the potential impact upon child adiposity.
This work was funded by the National Prevention Research Initiative (NPRI), a funding initiative of UK government departments, research councils and medical charities (see http://www.npri.org.uk).