Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Food Science and Nutrition


Food Science and Nutrition


Lisa Nicholson



Parenting Nutrition Skills Workshops: An Evaluation of Facilitated Group Discussions to Enhance Parenting Nutrition Self-Efficacy

By: Lisa Dawes, RD, CDE

This research study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of using facilitated group discussion (FGD), a less traditional method of nutrition education, for increasing parents’ feelings of self-efficacy in their ability to make nutrition-related decisions, and to set and enforce nutrition-related boundaries with their children.

Childhood obesity is on the rise; poor food choices, portion control, and inactivity are identified as contributing causes. Parents play a major role in creating healthy habits and providing a well-balanced diet for their children. Caregivers who act as the nutrition and behavior gatekeepers were targeted in this intervention. The objective of the current study was to enhance parenting nutrition education and identify barriers to healthy feeding practices in order to optimize nutrition and eating behavior.

Twenty-one parents and three grandparents (n = 24) of preschool and school-aged children participated in one-hour FGD parenting nutrition skills workshops. Parent volunteers participated in one of four workshops in a Central California community. Prior to the workshop, topics for discussion were chosen from common feeding issues determined in the literature such as food-related decisions at various locations (home, school, dining out, on the road); feeding jags; and dealing with a picky eater.

Parents completed validated questionnaires both before and immediately following the workshops. Two weeks after the workshops, parents were interviewed by telephone to measure longer-term impact of the FGD. Pre- and post-workshop questionnaires demonstrated that mean self-confidence levels significantly increased for the ability to set and enforce nutrition-related boundaries for their children directly after, and two weeks after participating in the FGD. Parents also demonstrated an increase in mean self-confidence levels in their ability to purchase nutritious foods and offer those foods to their children two weeks after participating in the FGD. Behaviors associated with an authoritative parenting style—such as modeling healthy eating; encouraging healthy food intake; and offering healthy foods without forcing the child to eat—were significantly higher two weeks after participating in the FGD. Significance may be attributed to the method of information delivery (FGD), the curriculum Feeding the Kids (FtK), or authoritative parents being more receptive to receiving new information, or a combination of all three.

Overall, research results suggest that the use of FGD, coupled with a visual tool such as the Chat Mat created for this project, increased parents’ feelings of
self-efficacy and elicited positive nutrition-related behaviors in adopting healthy feeding strategies for their children.

Keywords: Nutrition education, facilitated group discussion, self-efficacy, parenting styles, feeding strategies, parenting nutrition skills