Parental work hours and household income as determinants of unhealthy food and beverage intake in young Australian children

Chelsea E. Mauch, Thomas P. Wycherley, Lucinda K. Bell, Rachel A. Laws, Rebecca Byrne, Rebecca K. Golley

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Abstract

Objective: This study examined parental work hours and household income as determinants of discretionary (energy dense, nutrient poor) food and beverage intake in young children, including differences by eating occasion. Design: Secondary analysis of cross-sectional data. Three hierarchical regression models were conducted with percent energy from discretionary food and beverages across the day, at main meals, and at snack times being the outcomes. Dietary intake was assessed by 1x24-hour recall and 1-2x24-hour food record(s). Both maternal/paternal work hours were included, and total household income. Covariates included household, parent and child factors. Setting: Data from the NOURISH/SAIDI studies were collected between 2008-13. Participants: Participants included 526 mother-child dyads (median(IQR) child age 1.99(1.96,2.03) years). Forty-one percent of mothers did not work while 57% of fathers worked 35-40 hours/week. Most (85%) households had an income of ≥$50k AUD/year. Results: Household income was consistently inversely associated with discretionary energy intake (β=-0.12 to-0.15). Maternal part-time employment (21-35 hours/week) predicted child consumption of discretionary energy at main meals (β=0.10, p=0.04). Paternal unemployment predicted a lower proportion of discretionary energy at snacks (β=-0.09, p=0.047). Conclusions: This work suggests that household income should be addressed as a key opportunity-related barrier to healthy food provision in families of young children. Strategies to reduce the time burden of healthy main meal provision may be required in families where mothers juggle longer part-time working hours with caregiving and domestic duties. The need to consider the role of fathers and other parents/caregivers in shaping children's intake was also highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Early online date9 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • children
  • dietary intake
  • income
  • social determinants
  • work hours

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