Domoff, S. E., Kiefner, A. M., Hoffman, D. A., & Musher-Eizenman, D.R. (2015). Maternal feeding goals and restaurant menu choices for young children. Childhood Obesity, 11 (4), 484-488. DOI: 10.1089/chi.2015.0014
Background: Childhood obesity remains a major public health issue. One recent effort to improve the obesogenic environment is mandating that restaurants provide calorie and other nutritional content on menus. Little is known about whether maternal feeding for young children is influenced by calorie disclosure on menus. This study examined (1) whether maternal feeding goals associate with mothers’ food selections for their young children and (2) whether mothers change entrée and side selections for their children when calories/fat grams are listed on menus.
Methods: One-hundred seventy mothers of children ages of 3–6 years participated in an online survey. Most participants identified as white (76.5%), with a mean BMI of 25.68 (standard deviation=5.94). Mothers were presented two menus (one with and one without calorie/fat information).
Results: The goal of feeding for the child’s familiarity with the food was significantly associated with mothers’ selection of original side dish and entrées, with greater endorsement of this goal associated with choosing high-calorie/-fat sides and entrées. Feeding for natural content was associated with mothers’ selection of original entrée, with greater endorsement of this goal associated with choosing low-calorie/-fat entrées. Significantly fewer mothers chose a higher-calorie entrée when there was menu labeling.
Conclusions: Maternal feeding goals are associated with mothers’ selection of entrée and side dishes on restaurant menus. Results from this study suggest that menu labeling of calories and fat grams may influence entrée choices by mothers. Targeting mothers’ feeding goals and labeling restaurant menus may improve the diets of young children.