Understanding family food purchasing behaviour of low-income urban UK families: An analysis of parent capability, opportunity and motivation

Cassandra Screti, Katie Edwards, Jacqueline Blissett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Family food purchasing decisions have a direct influence on children's food environments and are powerful predictors of obesity and dietary quality. This study explored parents' capability, opportunities, and motivations regarding food purchasing for their families, as well as barriers and facilitators of healthy food purchasing behaviour, in an ethnically diverse, low-income area.

Semi-structured interviews with parents of under-11-year-old children were conducted to investigate family food purchases, both when eating inside and outside the home. Interviews were analysed using framework analysis mapped against the COM-B model (Michie et al., 2011).

An ethnically diverse, low-income area in Birmingham, UK.

Sixteen parents (13F, 3M) of under-11-year-old children. 75% Pakistani, 12.5% White British, 6.3% White and Black Caribbean, and 6.3% “Other”.

Four themes were identified: i) I know how to provide healthy meals for my family, ii) Family food purchase decisions are complex, iii) I want what they are eating and iv) Healthy eating is important but eating outside of the home is a treat. The barriers of healthy family food purchasing were predominantly at family and community levels, including time, cost, and both parents' and children's food enjoyment and preferences. Facilitators of healthy family food purchasing were primarily identified at an individual level, with high levels of capability and motivation for healthy food provision.

Attempts to enhance parental capability to improve healthy food purchasing through nutrition education is not likely to be a useful intervention target in this group. Emphasis on enjoyment, palatability and value for money could be key to increasing parental motivation to purchase healthy family foods.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107183
Early online date4 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2024 The Authors. CC BY


  • Behaviour change
  • COM-B
  • Family
  • Food environment
  • Food purchase decisions
  • Parent


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