Research Original Research: Brief| Volume 116, ISSUE 6, P984-990, June 2016

Parent Diet Quality and Energy Intake Are Related to Child Diet Quality and Energy Intake

Published:April 01, 2016DOI:



      Parents’ diets are believed to influence their children’s diets. Previous studies have not adequately and simultaneously assessed the relationship between parent and child total diet quality and energy intakes.


      Our aim was to investigate whether parent and child diet quality and energy intakes are related.


      We conducted a cross-sectional analysis using baseline dietary intake data from the Neighborhood Impact on Kids study collected in 2007 to 2009.


      Participants were parents and 6- to 12-year-old children from households in King County (Seattle area), WA, and San Diego County, CA, targeted by Neighborhood Impact on Kids were recruited. Eligible parent−child dyads (n=698) with two or three 24-hour dietary recalls were included in this secondary analysis.

      Main outcome measures

      Child diet quality (Healthy Eating Index-2010, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension score, and energy density [for food only]) and energy intake were derived from the dietary recalls using Nutrition Data Systems for Research.

      Statistical analyses performed

      Multiple linear regression models examined the relationship between parent diet quality and child diet quality, and the relationship between parent energy intake and child energy intake. In both analyses, we controlled for parent characteristics, child characteristics, household education, and neighborhood type.


      Parent diet quality measures were significantly related to corresponding child diet quality measures: Healthy Eating Index-2010 (standardized β=.39; P<0.001); Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension score (β=.33; P<0.001); and energy density (β=.32; P<0.001). Parent daily mean energy intake (1,763±524 kcal) was also significantly related (β=.30; P<0.001) to child daily mean energy intake (1,751±431 kcal).


      Parent and child intakes were closely related across various metrics of diet quality and for energy intake. Mechanisms of influence are likely to be shared food environments, shared meals, and parent modeling.


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      S. M. Robson is an assistant professor, Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition, University of Delaware, Newark; when the study was initiated, she was a post-doctoral fellow, Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH.


      S. C. Couch is a professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH.


      J. L. Peugh is an associate professor, Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH.


      K. Glanz is the George A. Weiss Professor, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and School of Nursing, Philadelphia.


      C. Zhou is a professor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle.


      B. E. Saelens is a professor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle.


      J. F. Sallis is a professor, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California, San Diego.