We investigated the association between the consumer attitudes of European parents and their children’s taste preferences and food choice. Furthermore, we studied whether the parental consumer attitudes were related to education level.
This analysis included 1,407 IDEFICS study children aged 6.0 to 11.8 years and from 7 European countries, who participated in the sensory taste perception module between 2007 and 2010. Parental consumer attitude was operationalized as ‘trusting in foods known from advertisements’ (trusting advertisements) and as ‘not avoiding additives in food’ (not avoiding additives). Parents reported their educational attainment and completed a food frequency questionnaire for their children. Consumption frequencies of sweet, fatty and processed foods as well as a healthy diet adherence score were calculated. Children performed fat, sweet and umami taste preference tests. Multivariable logistic models were used to analyse the association between parental consumer attitudes and their children’s
taste preference frequencies as well as parental education. Linear regression models wereused to analyse the association between parental consumer attitudes and their children’s food consumption.
Parental consumer attitudes were not associated with children’s fat, sweet and umami taste preferences. Children of parents trusting advertisements consumed more frequently processed
foods (β = 1.21, 95% CI: 0.49; 1.93). Children of parents not avoiding additives consumed more often sweet, fatty and processed foods and had a lower healthy diet adherence score (β = 2.37, 95% CI: 1.03; 3.70; β = 2.27, 95% CI: 1.12; 3.43; β = 0.91, 95% CI: 0.22; 1.59; β = -2.87, 95% CI: -3.89; -1.85, respectively). Unfavourable parental consumer attitudes were associated with a lower parental education level across Europe (Compared to high education: Odds Ratio (OR) of trusting advertisements with medium education: 1.04, 95% CI: 0.77; 1.40; OR with low education: 2.01, 95% CI: 1.15; 3.54; OR of not avoiding additives with medium education: 1.91, 95% CI: 1.44; 2.54; OR with low education: 1.76, 95% CI: 0.96; 3.24).
Across Europe, unfavourable parental consumer attitudes are associated with a lower diet quality of their children. Parental consumer attitudes in turn were associated with their own level of education. This has implications for policy makers, interventions and health promotion programmes that aim to promote healthy eating.