Although fruit and vegetable (F & V) consumption reduces the risk of obesity, and related diseases, less than a third of the U.S. child population consumes the USDA recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Accurately determining fruit and vegetable preference and consumption in children is a necessary step to a successful intervention.
Preschool children (age 4; n = 192) were individually interviewed about knowledge, preference, and perceptions of fruits and vegetables. F&V consumption at school was also measured by coding each child's tray waste during a one week time period. Parents (n = 172) were surveyed on parenting practices and parent and child consumption, knowledge, and preference.
Chi square with McNemar test for matching and odds ratios were performed to determine parent-child response concordance for F & V preference. Most F&V items had good concordance between parent and child; however, children frequently reported liking a fruit or vegetable even when a parent reported the child disliked. In addition, discrepancies existed between child reported preference and their F&V consumption at school. Discrepancies also existed between parent reported practices and child perceptions of parenting practices.
Obtaining input from both parent and child framed in a behavioral theory provides a more accurate understanding of the food environment necessary for interventions. The coding of F & V tray waste provides an objective measure of F & V consumption.
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