The overall goal of this project was to improve the understanding about what drives food choice for children under five years old in rural Mexico. The first five years are a sensitive period in the formation of children’s dietary habits and preferences, and it is also a period in which children’s diets transition from complementary feeding to diets that mirror that of the family. How and why this transition occurs remains largely understudied in settings like Mexico, and other low- and middle-income countries facing the double burden of malnutrition. Using qualitative methodology, this project examined maternal food acquisition through a characterization of the local food environment and the function of social networks in maternal food choice for children.
Findings from this project are in preparation for peer-review publications and have been presented at the annual American Society for Nutrition Conference and the Latin Society for Nutrition Conference. This project was designed and conducted by Dr. Ligia Reyes for her dissertation. Funding for this research was obtained from the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of South Carolina as a SPARC Graduate Research Grant.
In 2018, the research team (Dr. Edward Frongillo, Dr. Christine Blake, and Dr. Ligia Reyes) expanded this work to focus on food choice for children made by primary caregivers and alternative caregivers to examine a more collective unit of decision-making for children. Findings from this research are forthcoming.