Why don't they like that? And can I do anything about it? The nature and correlates of parents' attributions and self-efficacy beliefs about preschool children's food preferences.

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Journal Article
Appetite, 2013, 66 (1 July), pp. 34 - 43
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Children’s food preferences influence their food intakes, which then have important effects on their health status. Presently little is understood about the aetiology of children’s food preferences within families. Parental beliefs are important in many domains of socialisation although their role in the development of children’s food preferences has seldom been investigated. Parents of 2–5 year old children participated in semi-structured qualitative interviews, which were analysed with content analysis. The parents either had children with healthy food preferences (i.e. closely aligned with dietary guidelines) (N = 20), unhealthy food preferences (i.e. not closely aligned with dietary guidelines) (N = 18), or high levels of food neophobia (N = 19). Parents described their beliefs about why children like and dislike foods (their attributions) and their ability to influence children’s food preferences (their self-efficacy). Children’s food preferences were attributed to (a) the influence of children’s characteristics (e.g. food neophobia level and personality), (b) sensory attributes of foods (e.g. texture and appearance), and (c) socialisation experiences (e.g. peer modelling and parental feeding behaviours). Results provide preliminary evidence of differences in parents’ attributions and self-efficacy beliefs in the feeding domain and highlight the need for greater understanding of the ways in which parents’ beliefs affect children’s food preferences.
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