Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

What maternal factors influence the diet of 2-year-old children living in deprived areas? A cross-sectional survey

Iain K Crombiea1 c1, Kirsty Kiezebrinka1 p1, Linda Irvinea1, Wendy L Wriedena2 p2, Vivien Swansona3, Kevin Powera4 and Peter W Slanea5

a1 Department of Public Health, University of Dundee, Mackenzie Building, Kirsty Semple Way, Dundee DD2 4BF, UK

a2 Centre for Public Health Nutrition, Department of Medicine, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK

a3 Department of Psychology, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK

a4 Department of Clinical Psychology, NHS Tayside, Dundee, UK

a5 Erskine Practice, Arthurstone Medical Centre, Dundee, UK


Objective To investigate the maternal factors associated with poor diet among disadvantaged children.

Design Survey of 300 mothers of 2-year-old children from areas of high deprivation in Scotland (response rate 81 %). A diet quality score was derived from reported consumption of carbohydrates, protein, fruit and vegetables, dairy products and restriction of sugary fatty foods.

Results Most children (85 %) were classified as having a poor quality diet (low diet quality score). Mothers’ general knowledge about healthy eating was high, but did not predict the quality of the children’s diet. Lower frequencies of food preparation and serving, such as cooking with raw ingredients, providing breakfast daily and the family eating together, were also associated with a poorer diet. Regression modelling identified five significant factors. An increased risk of a poor diet was associated with mothers being unlikely to restrict sweets (OR = 21·63, 95 % CI 2·70, 173·30) or finding it difficult to provide 2–3 portions of fruit daily (OR = 2·94, 95 % CI 1·09, 7·95). Concern that the child did not eat enough increased the risk of a poor diet (OR = 2·37, 95 % CI 1·09, 5·16). Believing a healthy diet would help the child eat more reduced the risk of having a poor diet (OR = 0·28, 95 % CI 0·11, 0·74), as did providing breakfast daily (OR = 0·22, 95 % CI 0·05, 0·99).

Conclusions Interventions to improve children’s diet could promote more positive intentions about preparing and serving of foods, particularly of specific meals at which the family eats together. The benefits of these behaviours to the child (improved diet, weight control) should be emphasised.

(Received October 02 2007)

(Accepted September 03 2008)


c1 Corresponding author: Email

p1 Current address: Division of Health and Food Sciences, University of Abertay, Dundee, UK

p2 Current address: Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen, Health Sciences Building, Aberdeen, UK