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DOI: 10.1186/s12937-020-00616-x; PMCID: PMC7487727


BACKGROUND: Children in food-insecure families face increased barriers to meeting recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption. Hospitals and pediatric healthcare institutions have attempted to alleviate food-insecurity through various internal programs like food prescriptions, yet little evidence for these programs exist. Consistent with a patient-centered perspective, we sought to develop a comprehensive understanding of barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption and a parent-driven agenda for healthcare system action.

METHODS: We conducted six qualitative focus group discussions (four in English, two in Spanish) with 29 parents and caregivers of patients who had screened positive for food-insecurity during visits to a large pediatric healthcare system in a midwestern U.S. city. Our iterative analysis process consisted of audio-recording, transcribing and coding discussions, aiming to produce a) a conceptual framework of barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption and b) a synthesis of participant programmatic suggestions for their healthcare system.

RESULTS: Participants were 90% female, 38% Black/African American and 41% Hispanic/Latino. Barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption in their families fell into three intersecting themes: affordability, accessibility and desirability. Participant-generated intervention recommendations were multilevel, suggesting healthcare systems focus not only on clinic and community-based action, but also advocacy for broader policies that alleviate barriers to acquiring healthy foods.

CONCLUSION: Parents envision an expanded role for healthcare systems in ensuring their children benefit from a healthy diet. Findings offer critical insight on why clinic-driven programs aimed to address healthy eating may have failed and healthcare organizations may more effectively intervene by adopting a multilevel strategy.

Journal Title

Nutrition journal [electronic resource]





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Food access; Food insecurity; Food prescription; Fruit and vegetable consumption; Mobile market; Pediatric primary care