This study examined the relationship between maternal socialization strategies and children's nutrition knowledge and behavior. It was hypothesized that children of mothers who used strategies, that promote the internalization of healthful eating practices, would demonstrate greater understanding of the relationship between nutrition and health. Seventy-nine low-income, immigrant Mexican American mothers and their children (ages 4 to 8) participated. Measures of maternal strategies and child eating behavior were obtained through observations of mother-child interactions during a meal in the home and through a structured interview. Children's knowledge and awareness of the relationship between nutrition and health were assessed in a structured play session. Results indicated that after controlling for child age, mothers' use of reasoning, verbal nondirectiveness, and their provision of opportunities for children to participate in food decisions were positively related to children's knowledge and awareness, whereas the use of commands was negatively related. The use of commands, however, was positively associated with children's compliance to maternal eating directives. Mothers who were overweight, who discouraged unhealthy eating, and who used nutrition rationales had children who gave more physical appearance or weight responses.
- Mexican Americans