Few interventions targeting single food groups have demonstrated long-term health success. The Mediterranean Diet dietary pattern has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), a leading cause of death in the US. Dietary behaviors established in childhood track into adulthood, suggesting that healthful dietary behaviors should be established during childhood. Children living in low-income households are at greater risk of CVD and generally have less healthful diets, indicating a need for interventions promoting more healthful dietary practices. Parents are the gatekeepers of the home food environment and influence children’s dietary behaviors through parenting practices around food (i.e., modeling of eating behaviors, home availability).
Foods prepared and eaten at home have been associated with better diet quality. Cooking skills have been associated with home meal preparation, and children enjoy cooking with parents. Encouraging parents to involve children in home food preparation and using healthful food parenting practices may be an effective way to help children adopt a healthful dietary pattern. However, to promote behavior change, interventions should be convenient, enjoyable, and personally relevant. Since Internet use and access are prevalent, including among families with lower incomes, the proposed research will build on previous research with parent-child dyads from low-income households to develop an online cooking education intervention that promotes the Mediterranean dietary pattern and healthful food parenting practices. Once developed, the investigators will assess its feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy with 44 parent-child dyads. The results of this study have the potential to enhance child cardiovascular health and inform the design of digital interventions promoting sustainable dietary behaviors in at-risk children.
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