Mothers are often the nutritional gatekeepers of the home.  Understanding how nutrition and food information affect the provision of sugar sweetened beverages (SSB) and 100% fruit juice to young children is essential to effective interventions. The purpose of this study was to 1) examine mother’s feeding information sources and their relationships to SSB and 100% juice consumption among children ages 3 to 7 years-old, and 2) determine if feeding source was associated with adiposity. This study was a secondary data analysis from the Epidemiology of Body Mass Index Rebound prospective cohort study. Within this study, 372  children were enrolled at age 3 and followed every four months, at which time height, weight and body composition were measured, until they reached seven years old. SSB and 100% juice intake was assessed each visit using a consecutive 3-day dietary record provided from the child’s parents or caregiver. Mother’s identified their primary source of feeding information at baseline from a predetermined list that was later collapsed into the following categories for analysis: grandmother, other family member or friend, physician or other healthcare professional, and mother herself.  Statistical analysis was calculated using frequencies for categorical variables, relative changes in geometric mean beverage intake for each year of age and generalized estimating equation logistic regression models to examine the probability of consuming each beverage over time by mother’s primary feeding source. In the subgroup analysis, growth models to regress adiposity factors on age by feeding source were used. Results showed that mother’s primary source of feeding information were physician (48%), self (17%), grandmother (14%), other healthcare professional (11%), and family/friends (9%). Overall, each additional year was associated with a 7% increase in geometric mean SSB intake and a 15% decrease in 100% juice intake. Children’s SSB intake did not differ by primary information source, but the grandmother subgroup had the greatest child adiposity over time in terms of BMI z-score, fat mass index, and percentage of body fat.

Study strengths: This study represents a novel insight of SSB and 100% fruit juice consumption of young children between the ages of 3 to 7 years old. Previous studies involving grandparent influences employ cross-sectional or qualitative designs while this study contributes a longitudinal perspective.

Study limitations: Mother’s primary feeding information source was measured at baseline only; future research should address how information sources may change throughout a child’s development. Additionally, generalizability from this study is limited due to the non-representative sample.

What this means for your practice: This study emphasizes the important role that healthcare professionals have in disseminating information about nutrition to parents.  Your education and counseling efforts have the potential to influence the food and beverages available to young children within the household.  It may also be beneficial to reinforce the value of reliable, evidence-based resources given the reported use of other sources noted in this study.

Original citation: Korn, A. R., Economos, C. D., Hammond, R. A., Hennessy, E., Kalkwarf, H. J., Must, A., & Woo, J. G. (2020). Associations of mothers’ source of feeding information with longitudinal trajectories of sugar‐sweetened beverage intake, 100% juice intake and adiposity in early childhood. Pediatric Obesity, e12746.

About the Author:  Chenin Treftz, Ph.D., R.D.N., is a member of the research faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno.  Dr. Treftz has expertise in research, community nutrition, and higher education. Dr. Treftz has been a member of the Rethink Your Drink team since 2012.

The goal of Rethink Your Drink Nevada is to promote healthy beverages and reduce sugary drinks. To support this goal, free educational resources are available to eligible medical and dental care practices in Nevada.  For more information, please visit www.rethinkyourdrinknevada.com/healthpros or e-mail rethinkyourdrinknevada@cabnr.unr.edu.

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