A cultural understanding of Chinese immigrant mothers' feeding practices. A qualitative study

Nan Zhou, Charissa S.L. Cheah, Jennifer Van Hook, Darcy A. Thompson, Shelby S. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Differences in parental feeding practices revealed across and within different ethnic/cultural groups indicate that cultural examinations of feeding practices in understudied non-European-American populations require urgent attention. China ranks as the second largest source country for children in foreign-born U.S. households. Contrary to the stereotype of slender Asians, Chinese-American young children are at high risk for obesity but have not received sufficient attention from researchers and practitioners dealing with parental feeding practices and childhood obesity. The present study aimed to understand food-related parenting practices among Chinese immigrants in the U.S. using qualitative focus groups. Twenty-two mothers with preschool aged children participated in a discussion regarding parent-child food-related interactions and feeding practices. A thematic approach was adopted to analyze the focus group data following five stages of framework analysis. Thirteen key themes of feeding practices were identified, including 9 that are in existing feeding measures (pre-exiting practices) and 4 practices that have not been documented or emphasized in previous feeding measures (culturally-emphasized practices), including regulating healthy routines and food energy, spoon-feeding, using social comparison to pressure the child to eat, and making an effort to prepare/cook specific foods. Through the use of an emic approach and meaning-centered evidence, the complexities of parent-child interactions and unique nuances of parental feeding in this understudied population were revealed. Our findings can guide future development of culturally-appropriate measurement and inform intervention programs to promote the healthy development of Chinese-American children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-167
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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