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The present study explored parents’ requirements for healthy eating support prior to the development of a tailored intervention.
A cross-sectional study of parents attending children's centres.
Children's centres in Cornwall (rural south-west England) and Islington (urban London borough).
A total of 261 parents (94·2 % female) of pre-school children (aged 2–5 years) completed a questionnaire on factors influencing food choice, and preferences for and views on healthy eating support.
Parents reported that health, taste, freshness and quality were the most important factors influencing their food choices for their pre-school children. The importance of individual factors varied according to level of educational attainment. Over a third (38 %) of parents said they wanted more advice on healthy eating for children. Less educated parents showed the greatest interest in learning more about several aspects: what a ‘healthy diet’ means, how to prepare and cook healthy food, how to understand food labels, budgeting for food, examples of healthy food and snacks for children, appropriate portion sizes for children and ways to encourage children to eat well.
There was demand for healthy eating support among parents of pre-school children, especially those who are less educated, in one rural and one urban area of England.
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