Research Output
Low-income mothers’ food practices with young children: A qualitative longitudinal study
  Objective: Young children living in socioeconomically deprived areas of Scotland have an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese. To enhance understanding of the wider contexts within which family food practices are developed, this study examined the experiences of low-income mothers with young children.

Design: Qualitative longitudinal design.

Setting: The Lothians, Scotland.

Method: Two waves of individual interviews were conducted with 13 mothers at two time points within an 18-month period. All the mothers lived in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas in Eastern Scotland, and had at least one child aged 6 years and under. An inductive thematic analysis was conducted, through which the data were analysed both cross-sectionally and longitudinally.

Findings: Women experienced socioeconomic challenges which limited the financial and emotional resources, and the time they were able to commit to healthy eating practices. For some, change and instability were part of their lives, over which they had little control. Despite insecure socioeconomic contexts, women positioned themselves as expert mothers, evidenced through their strategies in dealing with the problem of ‘fussy eaters’ and their challenges of ‘expert’ advice.

Conclusion: This research demonstrates the significance of the broader difficulties that living in poverty presents to mothers, beyond the issue of cost, and which preventive health interventions should address

  • Type:


  • Date:

    04 June 2014

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Sage Publications

  • DOI:


  • Cross Ref:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    362 Social welfare problems & services


Harden, J., & Dickson, A. (2015). Low-income mothers’ food practices with young children: A qualitative longitudinal study. Health Education Journal, 74(4), 381-391.



Children; food practices; health inequalities; motherhood; Scotland;

Monthly Views:

Available Documents