The role of family variables in fruit and vegetable consumption in preschool children


  • Rachel L. Goldman
    NYU Langone Medical Center Bellevue Obesity and Weight Management Center, United States
  • Cynthia L. Radnitz
    Fairleigh Dickinson University, United States
  • Robert E. McGrath
    Fairleigh Dickinson University, United States


Most Americans, including children, continue to eat fewer fruits and vegetables than is recommended, putting themselves at increased risk of various health conditions. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relative importance of several family environment variables (food availability and accessibility, modeling of food consumption, parenting style, and family mealtime environment) for predicting children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables in a sample of low income minority preschool children. Two hundred and twenty nine primary caregivers and their preschool children were recruited from Head Start programs in New York and New Jersey. Caregivers consented, completed a battery of paper and pencil questionnaires, and had both their height and weight and their children’s height and weight measured. Higher availability, accessibility, and parental modeling were associated with higher consumptions of fruits and vegetables in children. Availability and accessibility were the best predictors, but parental modeling significantly enhanced prediction over the other variables.  Public health interventions should be geared toward helping poorer families increase the availability of fruits and vegetables in their homes, advising parents on how to make them accessible, and encouraging parents to model their consumption.


preschool children; fruits; vegetables; accessibility; modeling