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Quality or quantity: Quebec parents shed light on their strategies to promote "good eating" for their children

Stéphanie Pernice, Marie Marquis

Eating attitudes and behaviours developed during early childhood have a major impact on the future relationship of the eater with regard to food. And it is the parent who has the most influential role in this respect. This study is aimed at bringing out the practices observed and the attitudes adopted by Québec parents of pre-school age children in order to help them “eat properly.” Data was collected using postcards that were distributed around Québec day-care centres where they were handed out to parents. The analysis of the answers to the open-ended question on the postcard was carried out using Jean-Pierre Poulain’s food intake model as a basis. 1257 postcards were used for analytical purposes. The data gathered initially allowed us to understand the way in which parents perceived the idea of “eating properly.” The diametrically opposed notions of quality and quantity were made very clear. This study brings out the range of strategies used by Québec parents at mealtimes. The data gathered, which is extremely relevant to public health, will allow one to determine what key messages need to be passed on to these stakeholders when it comes to developing small children’s eating habits.