Project

The Food Foundation Qualitative Research Proposal: Gaining insight into food, diet practices and nutrition during the early year’s lifespan - PEDHSC20

The Food Foundation [FF] is conducting an in-depth study into food, diet practices and nutrition during the early year’s lifespan (pre-conception to 5 years of age).

Project summary 

This study is a qualitative inquiry that seeks to gain further insight into food and nutrition during early years, by consulting with parents, organisations and professionals. There could be up to four work packages, this initial one focusses on pre-conception and pregnancy and is running from November 2021 until 1st April 2022.

A Parent Advisory Group, comprising of 2-6 parents, will be established to inform the planning of the proposed research; the group will then be consulted at key points throughout the work package so that the research team can develop and refine each aspect.

Recruitment of participants, as well as data collection, will be from across the four nations of the United Kingdom [UK] – Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The proposed samples for the work package (as listed below) will primarily comprise of health professionals, parents/expectant parents as well as representatives from relevant organisations.

Focus groups will be the method of data collection. Potential participants will be invited to take part in a focus group discussion(s). There will be a ‘prompt’ list of pre-prepared questions, that will reflect the research aim and questions. Consideration will be given to participants’ experiences and views about:

  • The drivers underpinning food choices.
  • What already works well and the barriers facing pregnant women and parents in securing a healthy diet.
  • The culture that is needed to facilitate breastfeeding and good weaning practices.
  • The perceived policy action required to facilitate good practices (such as breastfeeding) and potentially reduce the incidence of childhood overweight.

The data will be analysed using a constant comparative method.

Project aims:

The overall aim of the research (all four potential work packages) is to draw on a narrative inquiry approach to gain insight into the barriers to healthy diets and their upstream causes during the early year’s lifespan.

Research questions (for all potential four work packages):

Through hearing the stories and experiences of individuals directly impacted, the professionals working with them and representatives from relevant groups/organisations, the following research questions will be addressed:

  • What are the facilitators and barriers to healthy food and diet practices at each life stage from pre-conception to starting school?
  • How should the local/national governments and businesses attempt to address the barrier(s) to healthy diets at these life stages?
  • What culture change is required to facilitate good practices (such as breastfeeding) and potentially reduce the incidence of childhood overweight.

Researchers and Institutions 

  • Dr. Lisa Whiting, Associate Professor [Research], Professional Lead, Children’s Nursing,

University of Hertfordshire,

07960006592; L.Whiting@herts.ac.uk

  • Dr. Jane McClinchy, Head of Nutrition and Dietetics,

University of Hertfordshire,

j.1.mcclinchy@herts.ac.uk

  • Dr Rosalind Fallaize, Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics,

University of Hertfordshire,

r.fallaize@herts.ac.uk

  • Dr Michael Fanner, Senior Lecturer in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing,

University of Hertfordshire,

m.fanner@herts.ac.uk

  • Dr Kelly Parsons, Research Fellow, Food Systems & Policy Research Group,

University of Hertfordshire,

k.parsons@herts.ac.uk