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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 9  |  Page : 4949-4955

Parental perceptions of child's healthy diet: Evidence from a rapidly developing country

1 Department of Pediatrics, Section of Academic General Pediatrics, Sidra Medicine; Department of Pediatrics, Hamad General Corporation; Department of Clinical Pediatrics, Weill, Cornell Medicine, Doha, Qatar
2 Department of Surgery, Hamad General Corporation; College of Medicine, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar; School of Health and Education, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden
3 Department of Pediatrics, Hamad General Corporation, Doha, Qatar
4 Pediatric Residency Program, Hamad General Corporation, Doha, Qatar

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Samar Magboul
Department of Pediatrics. Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, 3050
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_1252_19

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Background: There are no studies in Qatar or in the Middle East to investigate parental perception of healthy diet in childhood. Purpose: To investigate parental perception of childhood healthy diet in the State of Qatar. Methods: Cross-sectional prospective study at Hamad Medical Corporation, State of Qatar. Parents of children <14 years old were invited to complete a questionnaire. Results: A total of 398 parents agreed to participate, while 22 parents refused (response rate 94%). About 80% of parents were between 20 and 39 years of age, and 77% were females. Around 230 (58%) parents had ≥1 housemaid to help with housework, including food preparation. Whilst 151 children (37%) fell into the overweight and obese category, only 68 parents (17%) perceived that their child was in this category. Less than half the participants (n = 179, 45%) stated that childhood weight should be monitored prior to 5 years of age, while around 35% stated the same, but for children ages 5–14 years. Most participants (n = 324, 81%) agreed that parental eating habits could influence childhood weight. In terms of food preparation at home, mothers cooked almost 50% of the times, housemaids 30%, followed by grandmothers (16.6%), and fathers (3.4%). When asked about the frequency of school meals being prepared at home, 237 parents (60%) prepared their children's lunch box only 1-2 times per week. Moreover, 63% of parents chose the quality of food based on nutritional values, while 44% and 35% chose it based on safety and taste, respectively. When queried about whether the child's pediatrician or the primary care physician counsel families regarding childhood healthy diet, 187 families (47%) had not received counseling by their children's health care providers. Most families agreed that healthy diets lead to better school performance (n = 372, 94%) and better physical activity quality (n = 379, 96%). Compared to families living in the rural areas, parents living in the capital Doha had better insights that healthy diets result in better in school performance (p = 0.032). Conclusion: Parental perception is an important target for public health interventions. Within the current sample, families were aware of the positive impact of healthy diet on overall wellbeing. Qatar is a well-resourced country and it would be cost effective to train and professionally develop pediatricians and primary care physicians to be more proactive in tackling childhood obesity.

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