Maternal Resources, Parenting, and Dietary Patterns Among Rural African American Children in Single-Parent Families

Authors


E. Juanita Lee Clemson University, 426 Edwards Hall, Clemson, SC 29634. E-mail: leee@clemson.edu

Abstract

A correlation study was designed to test the hypothesis that maternal education, perceived family resources, and the importance of family routines would be related to children's dietary patterns. Additionally, the study examined the hypothesis that dietary patterns would be associated with children's cognitive and physical abilities. The sample for this study included 159 African American single-mother families with a 6- to 9-year-old child living in rural areas, most of whom lived in poverty. Children's eating patterns were assessed using a self-report questionnaire administered to the mother in an interview format. Children's cognitive ability was measured by several subscales from the Woodcock Johnson Psycho-Educational Instrument and the Harter Perceived Competence Scale for children. For male children, the mother's higher education was related to more adequate eating patterns at home, and more perceived family resources were related to the likelihood of taking vitamin supplements. For female children, greater milk intake was positively related to cognitive outcomes, including applied problem, passage comprehension, calculation, synonym identification, antonym identification, and quantitative concept scores. Milk intake was clearly related to more optimal cognitive development. The results of this study support the literature related to the importance of nutrition for cognitive and physical abilities in children.

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