What parents think: children and healthy eating

James Kelly, Jason J. Turner, Kirsty McKenna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


– Aims to investigate parental perspectives of the influence of the media, peers and parents on a child's perceptions of healthy food products.

– Quantitative analysis was conducted, using the results from 143 questionnaires, collected through a randomly selected primary school in Dundee.

– A positive significant relationship was found (p=0.006) between parents being aware of the health impact of fatty foods and purchasing healthy food products both for themselves and for their children. With regard to the influence of the media the research found a positive significant relationship (p=0.004), between the influence of adverts on children and the pestering and giving in of parents in the supermarket. The aspects of the influence of peers found that 44 per cent of parents believed that peer pressure influenced a child's demands for healthy food with 60 per cent of parents stating the influence of peers on a child's demands for junk food. No significant relationship was found, however, on peer influence and parental yielding. In the final aspect, that of parental influence, no significant relationship was found between pester power and parental yielding.

Research limitations/implications
– This was an exploratory study and carries the limitation of generalisability as it was conducted solely in one primary school in Dundee. Any further research should contrast perspectives from other UK cities and develop research into the family dynamics and education.

Practical implications
– It is suggested that the media have a significant influence on a child's demands for junk food, which emphasises the importance of using the media to encourage children to eat more healthily. Further the paper provides insight into influencing factors, suggesting that advertising can play a prominent role in influencing children's eating habits.

– This paper is helpful to both academics and practitioners in the field of marketing and food marketing. The paper provides some insight into parental perspectives of the influence of the media, peers and parents themselves on a child's healthy eating habits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-423
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Food Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Children (age groups)
  • Health foods
  • Nutrition
  • Parents
  • United Kingdom


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