Parents’ perceptions of healthy eating practices in north-east trinidad

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Proceedings of Singapore Healthcare


Aim: The purpose of this study was to explore perceptions, facilitators, and barriers to healthy eating behaviors among parents of primary school-aged children. Methods: A purposive sampling design was used to select parents of primary school children from four different communities in north-east Trinidad. They were recruited via the school system with letters containing the research purpose and background. Four focus group sessions were conducted between May and June 2013. Each focus group had an average of five participants and lasted for approximately 60 min. The participants were asked to define healthy eating, identify healthy foods, and describe their concerns regarding healthy eating. The interview questions were developed and validated by the research team members. The data were transcribed and analyzed for themes. Results: Twenty-three (N = 23) parents (78% female and 22% male) participated in the study. The participants define healthy foods as vegetables, starchy foods, porridge, tea, fiber, and foods low in fat. Parents also acknowledged that food cost, availability, parent’s inability to influence children to consume fruits and vegetables, and social barriers are some major challenges impeding healthy eating. Conclusion: Our study demonstrates that several barriers exist to healthy eating among primary school children in Trinidad. Community health professionals, school teachers, dietitians, and nutritionists need to play a more prominent role in teaching children and parents about the benefits of healthy eating. Future studies need to address the barriers to healthy eating. This might help to reduce the growing obesity prevalence in Trinidad.

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