Department of Management

Balancing health, harmony and hegemony: Parents' goals and strategies in children's food related consumer socialization

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Parents play a pivotal role in socializing their children for healthy eating. The objectives of the present study were (1) to identify food socialization outcomes valued by parents, and (2) to study how parents socialize their children for (healthy) eating at home and during food shopping. Including both parents' perceptions of valued food socialization outcomes and associated processes addresses a significant gap in the food socialization literature. The study used semi‐structured, in‐depth interviews with parents of young children. Data were subsequently analysed by interpretive, thematic procedures. The sample consisted of middle‐ to high‐income families from two cities in Denmark. Findings reveal four main food socialization goals valued by parents: (1) Nutrition and Health, (2) Healthy Relationship with Food, (3) Food Assimilation and (4) Self‐Regulation and Autonomy. Parents prioritized children's acquisition of a healthy relationship with food which included preserving family relations and harmony, more than strictly attending a nutritious diet, contrasting the focus on the nutritional value of diet usually emphasised by public health authorities. The study therefore concludes that parents' notions of what constitutes healthy diets for their children is not completely aligned with common nutrition‐oriented recommendations. Also, fathers were found to play a very active role in their children's food‐related consumer socialization. The findings underline the importance of addressing the priorities and strategies of both mothers and fathers when marketers and policy makers target contemporary families regarding children's food socialization.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Consumer Studies
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2020

    Research areas

  • children, consumer, health, marketing, parenting, socialization

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