Breakfast barriers and opportunities for children living in a Dutch disadvantaged neighbourhood

Ellen van Kleef*, Monique H. Vingerhoeds, Milou Vrijhof, Hans C.M. van Trijp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study was to explore parents', children's, and experts' beliefs and experiences about breakfast motivation, opportunity, and ability and elicit their thoughts on effective interventions to encourage healthy breakfast consumption. The setting was a disadvantaged neighbourhood in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Focus groups with mothers and children and semi-structured individual interviews with experts were conducted. Interview guides were developed based on the motivation, opportunity, and ability consumer psychology model. Thirty-two mothers of primary school children participated in five group discussions, eight focus groups were conducted with 44 children, and nine experts participated in interviews. Data from expert interviews and group discussions were coded and thematically analysed. The following themes emerged from the focus groups: (1) generally high motivation to have breakfast, (2) improved performance at school is key motivator, (3) limited time hinders breakfast, and (4) lack of nutritional knowledge about high quality breakfast. Experts mentioned lack of effort, knowledge, and time; financial constraints; and environmental issues (food availability) as barriers to breakfasting healthily. Several ways to encourage healthy breakfasting habits were identified: (1) involvement of both children and parents, (2) role models inspiring change, and (3) interactive educational approaches. Experts perceived more problems and challenges in achieving healthy breakfast habits than did mothers and children. Lack of opportunity (according to the children and experts) and ability (according to the experts) were identified, although the motivation to eat a healthy breakfast was present. Predominant barriers are lack of time and nutritional knowledge. Overall, findings suggest educational and social marketing approaches as interventions to encourage healthy breakfast consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-382
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Breakfast
  • Children
  • Disadvantaged communities
  • Focus group discussions
  • Intervention strategies


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