My PhD: Understanding ways to support parents to reduce provision of unhealthy foods to children, Brittany Johnson

Brittany Johnson, BNutrDiet, BHSc(Hons), APD, 3rd year PhD Candidate  

Children’s intake of unhealthy foods is excessive. Over consumption of unhealthy foods can displace healthy foods from the diet, further increasing children’s chronic condition risk and exposing them to potential nutrient deficiencies. To improve children’s diet quality and reduce the risk of chronic conditions there is an urgent need for novel, scalable and effective interventions.

My project is focused on finding out how to best support parents to reduce unhealthy food provision to their 3 to 7 year old children from within the home, to empower parents to make healthy choices for their children in the currently unhealthy environment.

I am using the Behaviour Change Wheel (Michie et al. 2014) process to guide a behavioural analysis to understand parents’ capability (knowledge and skills), opportunity (resources and social support) and motivation (attitudes, beliefs and intention) towards reducing unhealthy foods, and then use this information to develop a series of strategies (intervention content) to test in a future pilot study.

I have completed a systematic review of interventions to find out current approaches to reducing unhealthy foods, and an online survey using the Parental Food Attitude Questionnaire to understand parents’ motivation and predictors of parents’ unhealthy food provision. I am currently developing a discrete choice experiment to understand the role of physical and social opportunity when parents choose snacks to give their children.

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