Value conflicts in mothers' snack choice for their 2- to 7-year-old children

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Value conflicts appear when people experience struggles, doubts, and feelings of guilt when making food choices. This study aims to provide insight into value conflicts, which mothers may experience while providing snacks to their young children. Mothers are mainly responsible for providing the snacks their young children eat, making it a big responsibility for them as children's dietary behaviour tracks into adulthood. Possible value conflicts Dutch mothers (n = 136) experience while providing snacks to their 2- to 7-year-old children were investigated using food and motivation diaries and semi-structured interviews. Differences between mothers' educational level, first versus not-first child, and the differences in age of the children were taken into account. Results showed that the younger the children, the more value conflicts the mothers experienced. Mothers experienced most value conflicts when they provided snacks perceived as unhealthy. Six main value conflicts are elicited by this study, namely, conflicts between healthy and unhealthy snacks; conflicts between healthy and convenient snacks; conflicts related to providing snacks just before dinner; conflicts related to influence of others; conflicts when the child asks but the mother says “no”; and conflicts related to many unhealthy snacks at parties or visits. The insights gained in this study can be used for interventions to promote a healthier lifestyle, support the design of new snack products, and can give guidance for marketing challenges in global snack markets.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12860
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
Issue number1
Early online date20 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • children's dietary behaviour
  • diary research
  • food choice
  • healthy snack
  • interview
  • value conflict


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