Cross-cultural equivalence and associations among food insecurity and parental influences of children's fruit and vegetable consumption

Kathleen B Watson, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Over the past several decades, the prevalence of obesity has dramatically increased. Cause for concern has increased because overweight and obesity are major contributors to morbidity and mortality. Intervention research aimed at reducing the prevalence of obesity has identified the family, specifically the parent, as a key component of the home environment. However, findings from dietary behavior change interventions have been disheartening because few studies have reported meaningful change, suggesting methodological and/or measurement issues within the intervention process. A lack of appropriate mediators and cross-cultural equivalence may partially explain the reason for little change. The study aims were to (1) evaluate the psychometric properties and assess the cross cultural equivalence of the Food Insecurity Scale (paper 1) and the modified Parent Feeding Practices Questionnaire (paper 2) and to assess the overall relationships among food insecurity, parent mediators, and parent behaviors towards children's dietary behavior (paper 3) through structural equation modeling and tests of invariance. The study aims were accomplished through conducting secondary analyses using baseline data from English- and Spanish-speaking Hispanic women who participated in the Healthy Families: Step by Step (BHF) study. Results indicated that although the FIS and the mPFPQ exhibited sound psychometric properties, the instruments exhibited a lack of invariance across language spoken groups. The lack of invariance was more pronounced in the FIS. Results also supported the theoretical framework identifying parent's perceived barriers and self-efficacy as mediators of parent's behaviors toward improving children's health eating. Results did not suggest that the relationships were moderated by food insecurity. In conclusion, the identification of differential item functioning in food insecurity and parent feeding practices may be beneficial in enhancing tailored interventions through the incorporation of cultural differences into the change mechanisms. However, future research needs to be conducted to determine if the lack of invariance demonstrates the existence of item bias or if it is a reflection of true difference among the language spoken groups. Additionally, obesity intervention studies targeting parent/family barriers and parent self-efficacy to provide/encourage healthy diets may result in an increase in parent behaviors which promote healthy eating behaviors among children. Future research should also examine a more complete causal pathway to determine whether parental changes in the mediators ultimately lead to an increase in healthy dietary behavior among children.

Subject Area

Nutrition|Quantitative psychology

Recommended Citation

Watson, Kathleen B, "Cross-cultural equivalence and associations among food insecurity and parental influences of children's fruit and vegetable consumption" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3350062.