Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused unprecedented disruptions to the lives of families. This study aimed to investigate the impact of pandemic-associated stress on food parenting practices including interactions surrounding snacks, and child diet. Methods: Parents (N = 318) of 2–12-year old children completed a cross-sectional online survey assessing current COVID-19-specific stress, pre-COVID-19 stress, financial stress (e.g. food insecurity), food parenting practices, and child snack intake frequency. Structural Equation Modeling was used to model simultaneous paths of relationships and test direct and indirect effects. Results: Stress, including financial hardship, was higher compared with before the crisis. The majority of children had regular mealtimes and irregular snack times. Higher COVID-19-specific stress was associated with more non-nutritive use of food and snacks (e.g. emotional and instrumental feeding), but also more structure and positive interactions (e.g. eating with or engaging with child around mealtimes). Higher COVID-19-specific stress was also associated with greater child intake frequency of sweet and savory snacks, with some evidence for mediation by snack parenting practices. Conclusion: Our findings indicate that stress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic may be linked to child snack intake with potential impacts on child obesity risk, and suggest several modifiable points of intervention within the family context.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nutrition and Dietetics