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Original Research

RMJ. 2011; 36(3): 173-177

Factors influencing children's food choices: Results from focus groups discussion with children and their mothers

Morteza Abdollahi, Hayedeh kianfar, Mitra Abtahi, Maryam Amini1.

To evaluate food choices and related influencing factors in school children of Tehran, Iran.
Subjects and Methods
128 children (6-11 years old) in grades 1-4 and also 32 mothers were studied in 8 primery schools of Tehran in 2003. Twenty discussion sessions, 16 for students and 4 for mothers, were conducted each including 6-8 participants. After each interview, the transcripts were coded, reviewed, classified, summarized and analyzed.
Most children liked milk, chocolate, fruit, junk foods, puffed cereal and potato chips. The most important reasons for children's likes and dislikes were taste and appearance. School staff and parents were the most important factors that prevented children from eating whatever they wished. Most of the children believed that it was better if they could choose their own foods. From mothers' points of view, most children liked a lot of junk food, chocolate and oily and salty snacks and disliked milk, meat specially fish and vegetable.

After taste and parents, factors such as TV advertisements, peers, other family member and school staff are among important factors that influenced food patterns. Therefore, study of these variables for their associations with food choices and a better understanding of these determinants would be useful in developing nutrition interventions in order to achieve healthy dietary patterns in children. (Rawal Med J 2006;36:173-177).

Key words: Children, food choices, mothers, focus groups.

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