196117 Food choice coping strategies of employed parents: Associations with structural work conditions

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 1:30 PM

Carol M. Devine, PhD, RD , Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Tracy J. Farrell, MS , Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Christine Blake, PhD, RD , Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Elaine Wethington, PhD , Human Development, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Margaret Jastran, RD , Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Carole Bisogni, PhD , Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Employed parents use food choice coping strategies to manage food selection in response to work and family demands. Parents use these strategies to manage stress and fatigue, reduce meal time and effort, reduce food and eating expectations, and balance food and eating against other family needs. We conducted a pilot telephone survey to study how food choice coping strategies were related to parents' working conditions. Survey respondents were Black, white and Hispanic employed mothers (25) and fathers (25) randomly recruited from low/moderate income urban zip codes. 78% of those reached and eligible participated. The survey assessed parents' socio-demographic characteristics, work conditions (e.g. hours, shift), and use of 22 food choice coping strategies (i.e.: food prepared at/away from home, missing meals, individualizing meals, speeding up, planning). Two-tailed chi-square and Fisher's exact tests were used in data analysis. Half or more of respondents often/sometimes used 12 of 22 food choice coping strategies. Food choice coping strategies were significantly associated with working conditions. Among fathers, long hours and non-standard hours and schedules were positively associated with take-out meals, missed family meals, prepared entrees, and eating while working. Among mothers these work conditions were associated with restaurant meals, missed breakfast, and prepared entrees. Job security, satisfaction and food access at work were also associated with specific strategies. Study findings suggest that structural work conditions among parents are associated with food choice coping strategies with importance for dietary quality among working parents, but need testing in larger populations.

Learning Objectives:
Session participants will be able to: 1. define food choice coping strategies of employed parents; 2. describe how parents food choice coping strategies are associated with their structural working conditions; and 3. describe the implications of this research for worksite interventions.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Workforce

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.