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31-08-2020 | Original Paper | Uitgave 11/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 11/2020

Poverty and Food Insecurity Predict Mealtime Structure: Mediating Pathways of Parent Disciplinary Practices and Depressive Symptoms

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 11/2020
Auteurs:
Brittany R. Schuler, Katherine W. Bauer, Julie C. Lumeng, Katherine Rosenblum, Michael Clark, Alison L. Miller
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Abstract

Structured, well-organized mealtime routines can provide physical and mental health benefits for children. Poverty and food insecurity (FI) are risk factors for less effective mealtime routines. However, the specific mechanisms by which these social factors may negatively impact mealtime structure are not well-understood. We test whether poverty and FI are associated with parenting factors (mental health and parent disciplinary practices), and whether parenting factors in turn associate with less mealtime structure. Low-income families (N = 270), recruited when children were 6-years-old (wave 1), were followed for 2 years (wave 2). Poverty, FI, and parenting factors were assessed at W1 via parent-report. Associations of poverty and FI with two measures of mealtime structure (parent-reported and observed mealtime structure at wave 1 and wave 2), mediated by parent factors (depressive symptoms, lax and overreactive parent disciplinary practices) were assessed in separate path analyses. The association between higher depth of poverty and less mealtime structure in early childhood was mediated by greater parent depressive symptoms. FI was associated with less mealtime structure in early childhood, mediated by overreactive parenting, and with less mealtime structure in early and mid-childhood, mediated by lax parenting. Poverty and food insecurity may contribute to suboptimal parent disciplinary practices and poor parent mental health, which may reduce mealtime structure for children. Addressing parent mental health and parent disciplinary practices in the context of poverty and FI, accounting for the role of public nutrition assistance programs, may be one way in which interventions can improve mealtime structure for low-income families.

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