The present study compared child and parent perceptions of the home fruit and vegetable environment. In general, child and parent perceptions of the home food environment were similar. A large percentage of both children and parents reported high FV availability and accessibility (). When comparing child-parent dyads, the majority (56% to 86%) shared similar perceptions of home FV availability and accessibility, parental encouragement to eat FV, and family meal frequency. While the majority of child-parent dyads shared similar perceptions of the home food environment, over 30% of the parent-child pairs differed in their perceptions on more than half of the home food environment variables measured. This finding is comparable to research results reported by van Assema and colleagues [12
], who found that disagreement by more than one category across pairs of children and parents ranged from 9-30% with regard to fruit availability and accessibility. Other research has reported moderate discordance between perceptions among youth and parents with regard to FV accessibility and FV behavioral skills [14
] and family mealtime environment factors [13
]. It is interesting to note that parents in the present study tended to report higher levels of overall FV availability, FV accessibility, parental encouragement to eat FV, and regular family meals; however, these findings were not statistically significant (). Taken together, these findings may suggest that parents in this study perceived a more supportive home food environment than the children, which is consistent with previous research [12
Findings from this study indicate that when compared to parent perceptions, child perceptions of the home food environment were more strongly associated with child FV intake. Child-reported home food environment perceptions accounted for about 27% of the variance in child FV intake. Previous research with 4th
grade boys and girls has indicated that child-reported home fruit, fruit juice, and vegetable availability and accessibility predicted intake, accounting for 10% of the variance in the overall population and 35% of the variance in a girls-only model [4
]. The stronger association between child perception of the home food environment and FV intake may be, at least in part, due to the possibility that children who eat fruits and vegetables are more aware of their presence in the home. However, the cross-sectional nature of this study does not allow for the disentanglement of temporality.
The results of this study suggest that the while the majority of children and parents may share similar perceptions of the home food environment; a moderate proportion view the home environment differently. This finding indicates that it may be beneficial to obtain both parent and child perspectives of the home environment when conducting future research. A major strength of the study was the collection of data from both children and parents from low-income and ethnically diverse backgrounds. However, because this study utilized a small convenience sample and did not control for a variety of possible confounding variables, we are unable to make generalizations beyond the population measured. Additionally, the small sample size, did not allow for an examination of gender differences among children. Furthermore, FV intake among child participants may have been an overestimate [2