Parents Adopt Unhealthy Food Routines for Family Well-Being in Place of Unaffordable Activities
The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.
A new study suggests a key reason parents on a low-income buy unhealthy foods for their families is to compensate for non-food-related activities which support social well-being but that they are unable to afford.
The study from the Center for Food Policy at City University of London sheds light on the food buying habits of low-income parents across England. It looked at how these families’ food practices may be influenced by their ‘food environment,’ i.e., where people can buy and eat food outside of the home, as well as advertising and promotions they come across, but also the wider socioeconomic factors in their lives that may be affecting their decision making.
The findings support the well-established view that a food environment where unhealthy foods are ubiquitous, cheap, and heavily marketed drives parents to feed their families on them. However, they further suggest that when parents are unable to afford social activities with their children, like visiting a ‘soft play’ center or holidays even a short distance away, they are additionally driven to compensate with family ‘treats’ taking the form of unhealthy food routines.
Examples of such routines identified in the study include family visits to fast-food outlets like the local ‘chippy’ (fish and chips shop), kebab shop, or (famously branded) burger restaurant, or even food-related events at home such as family snacks time in front of a movie or board game.
The study involved 60 parents on low incomes as participants.