Identifying Parental Perspectives on Healthy Eating and Mobile Application Usage

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ReadNPlay for a Bright Future develops a variety of projects aimed at promoting healthy living in families with young children in Appalachian Tennessee. The purposes of this research are to collect parents’ and caregivers’ perspectives on healthy eating for the purpose of designing a new book in the ReadNPlay children's book series to be entitled A Farmers Market Adventure and to collect the preferences of parents and guardians related to website and mobile application (app) usage to help shape the development of a new ReadNPlay My Baby Book app.


Anonymous clipboard surveys were administered to attendees of regional community events during July of 2014. Survey items asked parents about healthy eating in the context of their families and the role of parenting websites and mobile apps in their families. The results from these surveys were summarized using Excel. A total of 100 surveys were collected.


It was found that when parents were asked to identify barriers to healthy eating, the most common responses were picky eaters in the household (30%) followed by lack of time (22%). When asked to identify things that have helped parents to encourage healthy eating in their families, the three most common responses were good recipes (20%), good role models (16%), and farmers markets (16%). Twenty-eight percent of parents surveyed do not use websites or apps for parenting, while those who do use parenting websites or apps identified advice from experts (20%) and advice from other parents (18%) to be the two features most commonly desired in such a resource. When asked what they do not like about website and app usage, 20% of parents indicated that these tools are “too complicated.” However, when parents are told that our group of pediatricians was developing a free mobile application for families designed to help them keep track of their baby’s growth, development, and eating habits, 75% of parents said such an app would be very helpful to them (25% said a little helpful).


These results will inform a new ReadNPlay children's book themed around healthy eating behaviors, overcoming pickiness, and shopping with families at farmers markets and a new ReadNPlay mobile app for families to use in conjunction with infant-toddler well child visits.


Washington, D.C.

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