Healthy food talk as action in everyday mealtime conversations of families with a low socioeconomic position

Amy van der Heijden*, Hedwig te Molder, Bogdana Huma, Gerry Jager

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


To date, little is known regarding if and how healthy eating is discussed, and how the concept of healthy eating is used in everyday interactions of families with a low socioeconomic position (SEP). This is an underrepresented study population in which many health benefits can be gained. By deploying an interactional approach to healthy eating, this study explored how healthy eating is constructed and oriented to during evening mealtimes in families with a low SEP. The data corpus comprised video recordings of 79 mealtimes from ten families with a low SEP. Healthy eating was rarely oriented to explicitly, as shown by the identification of only sixteen cases in which family members referred to (un)healthy eating. Using discursive psychology and conversation analysis, the examination of these cases showed that, how and with what function health claims were produced and designed as either identity-centered health claims or food-centered health assessments. By deploying identity-centered health claims parents constructed a desired prospective identity for their children to manage their eating behavior, whereas by deploying food-centered health assessments speakers accounted for their own behavior, particularly eating or providing food. The findings give a unique insight into how healthy eating is oriented to and constructed in the everyday life of families with a low SEP. In addition, the findings extend the discursive psychological body of literature on healthy eating talk during family mealtimes, and add to the knowledge base on discursive practices deployed to get children to eat.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100253
Number of pages8
JournalSSM - Qualitative Research in Health
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Conversation analysis
  • Discursive psychology
  • Family mealtimes
  • Health assessments
  • Healthy eating
  • Low socioeconomic position


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