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Author Notes:

Cam Duong, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA. Email: cam.duong@emory.edu

Cam Duong, Usha Ramakrishnan, Phuong Hong Nguyen, and Tuyen Huynh designed the study and the survey tools. Cam Duong and Tuyen Huynh managed the data collection. Cam Duong, Mica Jenkins, and Euisun Pyo analysed the data. Cam Duong, Mica Jenkins, Euisun Pyo, Melissa F. Young, and Usha Ramakrishnan interpreted the data. Cam Duong wrote the manuscript. All authors provided intellectual inputs to the manuscript, reviewed the draft contents and approved the final version submitted for publication.

The authors would like to thank the participation of mothers and the support from our local coordinates, research assistants, and translators in Vietnam. This research was conducted as part of the CGAIR One Health Initiative ‐ “Protecting human health through a One Health approach” and is supported by contributors to the CGAIR Trust Fund (https://www.cgiar.org/funders/). The authors also acknowledge the financial support from the CGIAR research programme on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health and ELMO Pre‐Dissertation Fellowship and Professional Development Fund awarded by Laney Graduate School, Emory University, United States. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed here are those of the authors alone.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Nutrition & Dietetics
  • Pediatrics
  • child eating behaviours
  • child feeding
  • food environment
  • maternal food choice
  • meal occasions
  • nutrition transition

Understanding maternal food choice for preschool children across urban-rural settings in Vietnam


Journal Title:



Volume 19, Number 1


, Pages e13435-e13435

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Improving diet quality of preschool children is challenging in countries undergoing food environment and nutrition transition. However, few studies have sought to understand how mothers in these countries decide what and how to feed their children. This study aims to explore maternal experiences, perspectives and beliefs when making food choice decisions for preschool children in urban, peri-urban and rural areas in northern Vietnam. Two focus group discussions and 24 in-depth interviews were carried out and analysed using thematic analysis. The results showed that mothers across the urban–rural spectrum shared the intention to feed children safe, nutritious food for better health and weight gain while satisfying child food preferences to improve appetite and eating enjoyment. These food choice intentions were embedded within family food traditions, whereby mothers emphasised nutritious food and adopted strict feeding styles during lunch and dinner but were flexible and accommodating of child preferences during breakfast and side meals. These intentions were also embedded within the physical food environment, which provided a mix of healthy and unhealthy food through informal food retailers. Despite these intentions, mothers faced financial constraints and difficulties in managing children's refusal to chew, changes in eating mood and strong eating temperament. These findings support policies to limit the presence of unhealthy food in informal food retail and encourage meal-specific feeding strategies to help children enjoy nutritious food, transition from soft to textured food and become more cooperative during mealtime.

Copyright information:

© 2022 The Authors. Maternal & Child Nutrition published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
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