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Family meals promote healthful dietary intake and well-being among children. Despite these benefits, family meal participation typically declines as children age. This study utilises life course theory to explore parents’ perceptions of family meals in order to understand how parents’ past experiences with family meals (in childhood and earlier in adulthood) influence their current beliefs and practices regarding mealtimes with their own children.
Semi-structured qualitative interviews.
In-person interviews were conducted in participants’ homes.
Twenty families (twenty-one mothers and fifteen fathers) with a child aged between 18 months and 5 years.
Thematic analysis revealed that families seemed to primarily approach mealtimes from one of three overarching orientations: meals for (1) Togetherness, (2) Nutrition Messaging or (3) Necessity. These orientations were informed by parents’ own mealtime experiences and significant life transitions (e.g. parenthood). The current family meal context, including the messages parents shared with their children during mealtimes and the challenges experienced with mealtimes, characterised the orientations and families’ approaches to mealtimes.
Parents’ own early life experiences and significant life transitions influence why families eat meals together and have important implications for the intergenerational transmission of mealtime practices. Results may help to inform the content and timing of intervention strategies to support the continuation of frequent family meals beyond the preschool years.
The purpose of the present study was to assess the nutritional quality of foods and beverages listed on menus serving children in government-sponsored child-care centres throughout Mexico.
For this cross-sectional menu assessment, we compared (i) food groups and portion sizes of foods and beverages on the menus with MyPlate recommendations and (ii) macronutrients, sugar and fibre with Daily Reference Intake standards.
Menus reflected foods and beverages served to children attending one of 142 government-sponsored child-care centres throughout Mexico.
There were fifty-four distinct menus for children aged 4–6 months, 7–9 months, 10–12 months, 13–23 months, 24–47 months and 48–72 months.
Menus included a variety of foods meeting minimum MyPlate recommendations for each food category except whole grains for children aged 48–72 months. Menus listed excessive amounts of high-energy beverages, including full-fat milk, fruit juice and sugar-sweetened beverages for children of all ages. The mean daily energy content of menu items yielded an average of 2·76 MJ for infants, 4·77 MJ for children aged 13–23 months, 5·36 MJ for children aged 24–47 months and 5·87 MJ for children aged 48–72 months. Foods and beverages on menus provided sufficient grams of carbohydrate and fat, but excessive protein.
Menus provided a variety of foods but excessive energy. Whole grains were limited, and high-energy beverages were prevalent. Both may be appropriate targets for nutrition intervention. Future studies should move beyond menus and assess what children actually consume in child care.
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