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Low-income mothers’ food practices with young children: A qualitative longitudinal study

Harden, Jeni; Dickson, Adele


Jeni Harden

Adele Dickson


Objective: Young children living in socioeconomically deprived areas of Scotland have an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese. To enhance understanding of the wider contexts within which family food practices are developed, this study examined the experiences of low-income mothers with young children.

Design: Qualitative longitudinal design.

Setting: The Lothians, Scotland.

Method: Two waves of individual interviews were conducted with 13 mothers at two time points within an 18-month period. All the mothers lived in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas in Eastern Scotland, and had at least one child aged 6 years and under. An inductive thematic analysis was conducted, through which the data were analysed both cross-sectionally and longitudinally.

Findings: Women experienced socioeconomic challenges which limited the financial and emotional resources, and the time they were able to commit to healthy eating practices. For some, change and instability were part of their lives, over which they had little control. Despite insecure socioeconomic contexts, women positioned themselves as expert mothers, evidenced through their strategies in dealing with the problem of ‘fussy eaters’ and their challenges of ‘expert’ advice.

Conclusion: This research demonstrates the significance of the broader difficulties that living in poverty presents to mothers, beyond the issue of cost, and which preventive health interventions should address

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jun 4, 2014
Publication Date 2015-07
Deposit Date May 5, 2015
Print ISSN 0017-8969
Electronic ISSN 1748-8176
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 74
Issue 4
Pages 381-391
Keywords Children; food practices; health inequalities; motherhood;
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