Pork provides key nutrients such as protein, thiamin and selenium, however fresh pork is not commonly included in the diets of Australian children, with processed pork preferred. Current dietary guidelines emphasise the consumption of fresh meat in preference to processed meat, and childhood eating habits are likely to persist throughout the lifespan. Investigation of factors influencing children’s pork consumption is therefore warranted. The aim of this exploratory study was to investigate parents’ perceptions of factors that affect their children’s consumption of pork and to identify barriers to the intake of fresh pork, in particular.
Six semi-structured focus group interviews were conducted with n = 31 parents or carers of children aged 2 to 16 years. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically according to the framework analysis technique and using NVivo qualitative analysis software. Key themes and sub-themes were identified, and exemplar quotes for each theme were identified.
A number of key themes emerged during the focus groups, namely: a lack of confidence and knowledge relating to the preparation and cooking of fresh pork, poor acceptability of fresh pork by some children due to taste and texture and the influence of family and cultural traditions on pork consumption. Parents reported an overall perception that fresh pork was a healthy meat, but a low visibility of pork in shopping outlets and limited advertising restricted its uptake. Participants discussed a need for pork recipes and cooking instruction to build confidence in their ability to prepare fresh pork dishes.
This exploratory qualitative study is the first to explore factors influencing children’s pork consumption and has provided key insights into children’s eating behaviour in relation to pork. These factors may inform targeted dietetic strategies, including recipe development and the provision of information on nutrient composition and cooking strategies, to encourage dietary diversity regarding meat choices for families with young children.