The Assessment of Food Management Behaviours that Influence the Diet Quality of Mother-led Families in Nova Scotia

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Currie, Kristin
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We have shown in previous research that food management strategies adopted by lowincome families may account for the difference in diet quality within households that have similar economic and structural characteristics. By studying these familial food policies we can better understand how internal and external factors influence diet quality, particularly for vulnerable populations, which may help to develop successful programs and health initiatives aimed at achieving and maintaining diet changes that reflect the recommendations in Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide. The objective of this research was to validate the Food Management Assessment Tool; a tool designed to assess diet quality and food management strategies used by low-income households. The goal was to design a tool that could be implemented and interpreted by a health care practitioner with little or no nutrition background. This required three methodological objectives to develop and validate estimation tools to assess, 1) if a meal contains 30% of food energy from fat; 2) if a food item is a limiting food; and, 3) if a non limiting food item is high in fat. Participants included 48 low-income mother-led families with at least two children between the ages of 2-14 living in Nova Scotia. The mothers completed one 20-60 minute face-to face interview in which they described the supper meal consumed by each family member and completed an interview administered questionnaire designed to assess Food Management Strategies. The data was interpreted using Family Systems Theory. Results found that low-income families that use healthy food management strategies were 13 times more likely to have good diet quality than those that do not use healthy food management strategies. The overall Food Management Score includes components on healthy eating, formal meal structuring, meal planning and on whether or not the family is mother driven, as opposed to child driven. This research was the first to develop an index score able to identify and classify families based on the functionality of their environment in relation to diet quality. Practitioners can use the tool we developed to assess clients and to develop, monitor and evaluate programs.
Fatherless families -- Nutrition -- Nova Scotia , Diet -- Economic aspects -- Nova Scotia , Nutrition surveys -- Nova Scotia