Intergenerational Family Conversations and Decision Making about Eating Healthfully

Matthew Kaplan, Nancy Ellen Kiernan, Lynn James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Objective: To explore how youth, parents, and grandparents discuss issues related to eating healthfully and unhealthfully and to identify intergenerational strategies for educators to improve this communication. Design: In three intergenerational focus groups, each with 4-8 families, a trained moderator asked questions about family practices and conversations for eating healthfully and unhealthfully. Setting: Three focus group sites, each with Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Program sites (PANEP) programs serving low-income populations and multigenerational clientele, based in geographically and culturally diverse communities in Pennsylvania. Participants: Forty-four individuals (21 pre-teens, 16 parents, and 7 grandparents) from 17 families. Phenomenon of Interest: How youth, parents, and grandparents discuss and influence each other's healthful and unhealthful eating practices. Analysis: "Strength" of evidence determined by repetition of ideas across focus groups and from the respondents' quotes providing in-depth information. Results: Families demonstrated a wide range of ways that family communication is associated with the adoption of healthful and unhealthful patterns of eating. Parents and grandparents expressed anguish over their struggle and inability to help their children eat more healthfully. All three generations enumerated strategies for dealing with disagreement. Conclusions and Implications: Grandparents, parents and children indicate that they need opportunities to learn together and communicate about ways to improve nutrition behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-306
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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