Low-income children's reported motivators of and barriers to healthy eating behaviors: A focus group study

Lillian B. Kaye, Carolyn M. Tucker, Marie A. Bragg, Angela C. Estampador

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Despite national attention to the childhood obesity epidemic, there are few US-based studies that directly ask children - especially children from low-income families and from multiple racial/ethnic groups - why they do or do not engage in healthy eating behaviors. Objective: The purpose of this study was to identify motivators of and barriers to healthy eating behaviors, as reported by black, Hispanic, and white children from low-income families. Method: Six gender- and race/ethnicity-concordant focus groups were conducted with 37 children who were aged 9 to 12 years and from families with an annual household income of $40 000 or less. Multiple strategies were used to employ a culturally sensitive approach to both data collection and data analysis (eg, a team of culturally diverse researchers utilized inductive qualitative analysis to analyze focus group transcripts). Results: The motivators of and barriers to healthy eating behaviors most commonly reported across the 6 focus groups included social influence, taste, issues of availability, weight concerns, and the desire to be healthy. A variety of less commonly reported motivators and barriers were also discussed. Findings were generally similar across gender and race/ethnicity. Conclusions: Children in this age range can indeed identify a variety of motivators and barriers that influence their engagement in healthy eating behaviors. Interventions targeting obesity and eating behaviors should include an assessment of children's own perceived motivators of and barriers to healthy eating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)941-951
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - 2011


  • African Americans
  • Barriers
  • Body weight
  • Children/adolescents
  • Latinos
  • Obesity
  • Race/ethnicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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