Adolescent Independent Eating Occasions, Dietary Intake, and Parenting Practices During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Study of Parents and Adolescents From Households With Low-Income


Carolyn Gunther, Martha S. Pitzer for Women, Children, and Youth, College of Nursing, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. Electronic address:
Jinan Banna, Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI.
Blake L. Jones, Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.
Catherine Park, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.
Marla Reicks, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.
Rickelle Richards, Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.
Heather Schier, Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.
Glade L. Topham, Department of Applied Human Sciences, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS.
Siew Sun Wong, School of Biological and Population Health Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.
Alex K. Anderson, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, GA.
Miriam Ballejos, Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, WA.
Laura C. Hopkins, Department of Public Health and Prevention Science, Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, OH.
Karina R. Lora, Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, The George Washington University, Washington, DC.
Lillie Monroe-Lord, Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health, University of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC.

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of nutrition education and behavior




COVID-19 pandemic; adolescent; dietary intake; independent eating occasions; parenting practices


OBJECTIVE: Examine how experiencing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic influenced adolescent independent eating occasions (iEOs) and iEO-related parenting practices from the perspective of parents and adolescents METHODS: Cross-sectional remote interviews were conducted for this basic qualitative research study. Participants were a purposive sample of multiracial/ethnic adolescents aged 11-14 years and their parents from households with low-income (n = 12 dyads) representing 9 US states. The main outcome measures were iEOs and iEO-related parenting practices. Data were analyzed using directed content analysis. RESULTS: About half of the parents indicated that their adolescents had more iEOs during the COVID-19 pandemic and that there were changes in the types of foods consumed during iEOs. In contrast, most adolescents indicated their iEOs had not changed remarkably in frequency or foods consumed since the onset of the pandemic. Most parents reported no change in how they taught their adolescents about healthy food, the rules for foods/beverages permitted during iEOs, or how they monitored what their adolescents ate during iEOs; adolescent reports were in general agreement. Most parents indicated that family members were home together more often during the pandemic, which increased cooking frequency. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on adolescents' iEOs varied, and the parenting practices used to influence iEOs remained stable during the pandemic. Families experienced having more time together and cooking at home more often.


Exercise and Nutrition Sciences