Predictors of outcomes following a brief Portuguese parental nutrition intervention

Ana Isabel Gomes, Luísa Barros, Ana Isabel Pereira


Early childhood is largely recognized as a critical period for shaping the child’s eating patterns.
Although interventions studies that focus on first years of life are increasing, with positive impact,
the moderators of treatment gains and the relative importance of each determinant of the change
process have been rarely explored. This study aimed to identify potential predictors of outcomes
concerning children’s healthy and unhealthy eating behaviors after a parental school-based
intervention. An intervention longitudinal study with repeated measures at baseline and after
participation in the Red Apple program was performed. Parents and children were recruited in public
and state-funded kindergartens near Lisbon, Portugal. A total of 44 parents of 3- to 6-year-old children
agreed to participate in the study and 39 met the inclusion criteria. The Red Apple program included
four parental group sessions about young children’s growth, nutritional guidelines, and positive
parental feeding strategies, and adult-child activities and newsletters delivered to caregivers. Data
regarding children’s dietary intake, food preferences, neophobia/neophilia, parental concerns about
the child’s weight, and self-efficacy in promoting healthy dietary patterns in children were collected
before (T1) and after (T2) the intervention. Higher parental concerns about weight and self-efficacy
at T1 significantly predicted children’s healthy dietary intake at T2. The only significant contribution
for children’s unhealthy dietary intake at T2 was the previous consumption of those foods at T1.
Interventions that focus on parental cognitive variables might effectively contribute to positive changes in children’s dietary intake. Findings also suggest that specific targets of children’s diet may pose unlike challenges that respond differently to the mechanisms of influence of the intervention.


Children's dietary intake, Predictores, Parental concernes about weight, Parental self-efficacy.

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