The impact of work, childcare and family variables on the diet quality and diet diversity of preschoolers in dual-earner families in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Extavour, Vermaran Renee Lorna
Over the last 40 years there has been an increase in the number of women entering Canada's labour force. With the increase in participation it is not clear how women working outside of the home affects the diet of preschoolers in dual earner families. This study examined the effects of mothers' work, child-care and family variables on the diet quality and diversity of preschoolers in dual-earner families. The effects of the combined mothers' and fathers' work variables on the diet of preschoolers were also examined. Subjects were 146 preschoolers (24-47 months) in dual earner families living in Winnipeg. Parents and caregivers kept an estimated 3-day food record for non-consecutive days. Work variables were work time, work schedule, and work schedule flexibility. I also included the licensing of the child-care facility as a characteristic of the child-care setting. Mothers' education and family income were used as the characteristics of the family setting. Diet quality was measured using a mean adequacy ratio score, while diet diversity was measured by determining the presence of different foods. Mothers' work time and mothers' education had significant relationships with diet quality (r = -0.2, p < 0.05 and X2 = 6.78, p < 0.03, respectively). Mothers' work schedule flexibility was significantly related to diet diversity (X2 = 2.94; p < 0.05). Family work time and family work schedule had significant relationships with diet quality (r = -0.2; p < 0.05 and X2 = 7.92; p < 0.05, respectively). Family work schedule was significantly related to the preschoolers'diet diversity (X2 = 5.43; p < 0.10). The combined effect of work, child-care and family variables did not indicate any significant relationships with diet quality and diversity. Mothers' work variables and family work variables have an effect on diet quality and diversity of preschoolers. The child-care and family settings also have an effect on the diet of the preschooler. Further research is needed to fully explore how other variables of mothers' work, and the combined family work settings how they may affect the diet of preschoolers. With mothers' increasing their presence in the labour force, further research is needed to fully explore other characteristics such as work place stress, to determine their effect of the diet of preschoolers. The results of such research have implications for nutrition education programs for parents as well as for the design of work place policies.